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Ep.88 – Dead Ahead - All Roads Lead to DEATH and REVENGE

Episode Notes

A late night drive goes deadly wrong, but now with the help of some black magic things could go from dead to worse.

Dead Ahead by Joe Solmo

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Transcript:

“Becca! Don’t come out here with your witchy bullshit!” Tom yelled as he threw another shovel full of dirt behind him. “If you want to help, get in here and help me dig.” “It’s not witchy bullshit. I’m telling you this is bad. A person died. We did it. This is going to come back on us three-fold. This is a lot of negative energy,” Becca said pushing her long brown hair behind her ear. Her boyfriend Tom was in a hole about three feet deep and getting deeper by the second. “Come take your turn. I need a break. It’s a lot harder than they make it look in the movies,” Tom said. “I told you I want no part in this,” Becca replied taking a step back into the chilly night. “You already are a part of this. You are just as guilty as I am. This poor bastard died because of both of us,” Tom retorted clanging the shovel off the corpse laying on the damp ground. “I wasn’t the one driving!” Becca said, wiping a tear from her eye. “And I suppose your next excuse is going to be you had your mouth full and couldn’t see over the wheel, right?” Tom sneered. “Look neither of us wanted this, but we have to take care of it. Do you know what would happen if we went to the cops?” “Yeah, I know. We are wanted. Look, I don’t want to go to jail for murder either,” Becca argued. “Murder? Who said anything about murder? It was an accident. We might get manslaughter, but surely not murder,” Tom responded pulling himself out of the hole and wiping his brow. His blond hair dirty with the earth he had been tossing. “This will have to be deep enough.” “What if someone finds the body?” Becca asked. “No one would give a fuck. This is Jersey.” “I think you’ve watched too many mob movies,” Becca said and turned away from the grave. She looked at the car, sitting just off the road enough into the pines to be hidden from the traffic. Her blue eyes focused on the dent in the passenger side bumper, and the blood that stood out starkly on the white paint.  They were never going to get away with it, she thought. There was just too much evidence. They should have just called the cops when they hit that jogger. One thing was for sure, it was the last time Tom was going to talk her into road head. “Becca, are you even paying attention?” Tom asked. She turned around and saw him standing there with the jogger’s arms in his hand. “Come on, help me swing him into the hole,” he finished impatiently. “I told you I don’t want that negative energy,” she said crossing her arms in defiance. “I told you that witchy bullshit has to go. We have been dating almost a year now and I haven’t seen you do shit with it. So, unless you are going to wiggle your nose and lift the corpse into the grave, get your ass over here and lift this bastard with me,” Tom said tossing the jogger’s arms down onto the damp earth. Becca rolled her eyes. With a sigh she gave in and walked around to the jogger’s feet. She grabbed his ankles and looked at Tom, waiting. “Well, are we doing this?” she asked. Tom grabbed the other end and together they put the jogger into the open grave. She looked at the mangled person lying there, wondering what kind of life he had had before they had taken it from him. Did he have a family? Was someone looking for him?  Her thoughts were interrupted when the jogger’s face got a shovel full of dirt. She looked up at Tom and saw him in a new light. This was too easy for him. She wondered if this was the first time he had to bury a body. She really didn’t know much of his past. He never spoke about his life before they met last year. She knew he wasn’t Mr. Right, more of a Mr. Right Now. One that got her out of a bad situation. If she was being honest, he was a bit of an asshole. “Don’t worry, I got this,” he said as he continued to throw dirt into the grave. “We only have the one shovel. You want me to use my hands” she snipped at him. “Why don’t you go wait in the car then,” Tom responded. “I was going to say a few words when we were done. Nothing much, but something should be said.” Tom scoffed. “I’ll say something, don’t worry about it.” “Sometimes you can be a real jerk, you know that?” she said and stormed off sullenly to the car, she plopped in the passenger seat, slamming the door. “You like him so much maybe you should give him head too, I think it’s going to get real stiff soon,” Tom yelled smacking the corpse again with the shovel. Becca could hear it ring out even from the car. She reached under the seat and found her bag. She dug inside for a cigarette, just to take the edge off. She pulled out a worn paperback.  Payback Rituals and Spells of Revenge. She remembered that her friend Amanda let her borrow it. They had found it in her mother’s items after her suicide. That was just before she left town with Tom. She thumbed through it while waiting. The Revenant: The dead with a mission. Bring a recently deceased person back to right the wrong of death. This is a gray area of balance with nature. On the one hand, it disrupts death, but it can help the soul reach peace through resolution. The weight of this ritual can weigh heavy on one’s soul. Caution should be used while contemplating this ritual. Haste will be your enemy. “Ha. Would serve the asshole right if I brought that jogger back. Teach him a lesson. I’m the only one stupid enough to miss him, and it would absolve my guilt,” Becca said to the empty car. “Haven’t done shit with it…” “Hey babe, I’m all done just going to say a few words,” Tom yelled as he unzipped his zipper. A steaming stream landed on the newly packed earth. “Ooohhh. Awwwww. Those enough words for ya?” he called over his shoulder. “That son of a bitch,” Becca said and got out of the car, but instead of heading towards him, she went off into the woods alone with her bag. “Where you going? It was just a joke!” he called out as he shook out the last drops. “Come on babe!” Tom chased off after her into the woods. “Babe?”  He heard a few twigs snap off to his left, he turned in that direction but it was too dark to make anything out. She was heading farther into the barrens away from the highway. “Okay. You made your point. Come back and do a real Eulogy. I won’t interrupt, I promise!” Tom called out into the night. Was that a flashlight ahead? He sighed and headed towards the light he saw. Becca was on her knees in a small clearing, illuminated not only by the moonlight above, but by her flashlight laying on the dew-covered grass in front of her. She was saying something over and over again in a whisper that Tom couldn’t make out. “Babe?” he said shining his light on her back, casting her shadow on the trees around them. “It’s done, we can leave now.” Becca opened her eyes and turned her head. Quickly she placed some objects into her bag before he could see what they were. “Be right with you,” she said and stood up, wiping off her stockings. She reached down for her bag, but his hand on hers froze her in place. “What were you doing out here with your bag?” he asked, intensely meeting her gaze. “I had to use the bathroom and I didn’t want to do it close to the highway,” Becca replied and pulled her hand away from his. She clutched her bag to her chest with one hand and gestured with the other. “Lead the way!” she finished sarcastically. “You know, sometimes you can be a real bitch. You better get that in check before I leave your ass for a younger model,” he said as he led the way back towards the car. “I doubt you could find someone that would put up with your shit for very long.” Tom turned and faced her. “I’m serious. Your looks will only get you so far. You better drop that attitude…before I drop you,” he threatened. “Are you kidding me? You’re threatening me?” “It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” he said and stared at her for a few seconds. When she didn’t respond, he turned back into the woods and continued on. “That’s the most cliché saying,” Becca mumbled under her breath, but followed Tom into the night. She heard the words Tom spoke again, but this time it wasn’t his voice, it was her father’s. The threats and beatings that she had been suppressing came rushing back. She remembered the last time he spoke those words to her. It was just a little over one year ago, she had come home from Amanda’s house where they were studying for the History final. She came in through the back door into the kitchen. It was seven p.m. and she had not eaten since lunch. She bumped into the dish rack sending a steak knife onto the floor. She closed her eyes and froze, hoping her father had not heard. Becca remembered opening her eyes and then rummaging through the cabinet for something to eat. Her eyes lit up when she found a box of cereal. In her haste to eat, she dropped the box scattering the flakes across the linoleum floor. Her father entered the room a second later and saw the mess on the floor. “What is this? Clean this up!” he yelled as he made his way to the fridge for another beer. At this time of night, he was probably on his fifth. She tried to walk past him to get the broom from the closet, but her father’s large hands stopped her. He threw her down to the floor. “I said clean this up, you clumsy bitch!” “I was getting the broom!” she said, looking up at him through tear-blurred eyes. “I didn’t say get the broom, I said clean this shit up!” her father yelled and kicked her arm that she was leaning on. Her face dropped down onto the floor among the cereal. She blinked the tears away and saw in front of her the knife she had dropped earlier. Becca sat up on the floor, placing the steak knife under her so that he didn’t see it. She looked up at her father as he cracked open his fresh can of beer. He turned towards her. “You’re so hungry. Eat it off the floor,” he said and pushed her back down. “Eat it, you pig or I swear to God I will end you!” “Are you threatening me?” “That’s not a threat, slut. That’s a promise,” her father said. Becca gripped the knife hard and stabbed her father in the thigh. He cried out and dropped his beer. With his other leg he kicked her. She had the knife gripped so tight she pulled it out of him as she fell back. “What did you do, bitch? I will kill you!” she remembered him saying before she had lost control. The next thing she remembered was her father laying in a strange pool of blood, cereal, and beer on the floor. He was still.


Becca came out of it as they neared the car. Tom threw the shovel and flashlight into the trunk and walked around to the driver’s side as Becca stood there, trying to make the image leave her mind. “What’s wrong with you?” Tom asked. Becca looked towards the shallow grave with a look of disappointment before turning back to Tom. Was she going to actually get back into his car after what he said? She looked at Tom and saw her father’s face. She tried to shake that image. This time it was different, this time it wasn’t self-defense. Just Tom being an asshole. She had her doubts that he would actually hit her. A twig snapped in the woods and both of them turned towards the sound. In the darkness something stirred. “Who’s out there?” Tom called. The only response was the sound of a heavy footfall. Becca’s hair started to stand on the back of her neck and she got an uneasy feeling. She tried to get in the car, but it was locked. “Tom?” she said unevenly. Tom didn’t answer, his eyes transfixed on the image before him. In the flashing lights from the passing cars on the highway Becca caught a glimpse of the man approaching.   Another loud footfall from the man, as he dragged behind him the broken leg inside the bloodstained pair of sweatpants. Becca looked on in horror at the twisted neck and the head lolling to one side. Did it actually work? “Tom, open the door. Let’s get out of here,” Becca said, second guessing what she had done. It looked so wrong as it moved towards them. “One sec babe,” Tom said and pulled out the pistol he kept tucked into the back of his jeans. “I think this asshole wants to play.” “TOM! Unlock the fucking door,” she begged as fear tears started to flow. Her heart was pounding in her ears. Tom took a step closer to the reanimated jogger. “That’s far enough, asshole. It was an accident. I am sure you can appreciate that. Let’s go get a beer and talk this over,” Tom said aiming the pistol at the joggers head. “Tom. He won’t listen!” Becca yelled in fear. She ran to the trunk of the car. Luckily Tom had not shut it, and she grabbed the shovel. Beside the shovel in the truck was a hunting knife. She tucked the blade into her belt and hefted the shovel as she came around the car. Tom came into view just in time for her to see the jogger lunge at him, he fired a shot off. They fell to the ground, the jogger on top, his head flopped around as they struggled, but its hands were wrapped around Tom’s neck. She cried out and ran over to help. She swung the shovel and hit the jogger in the back, to little affect. A few more swings made no difference. In her frustration she threw down the shovel and kicked the jogger, who fell off the side of Tom, but didn’t let go of his neck. Becca could hear Tom trying to gasp for air. She grabbed the jogger’s arms and tried to pull them off of Tom, but the grip was too strong, Tom was going to die. She did this, she called the revenant back from the grave. She should have known better. The witchy bullshit was going to kill Tom.  He could no longer say she didn’t do shit with it. Just then Becca had an epiphany. Tom was going to die. The thing was busy with Tom! She scrambled into Tom’s pants pockets and found the car keys. She jumped to her feet and ran to the car. She fired up the engine and threw it in reverse. With a final look at Tom, who was now still, she punched the gas and backed towards the highway. Tom never let her drive, but she had seen it enough to figure it out. The car bounced over the uneven ground as she sped in reverse towards the lights behind her. Once she was on the side of the road, she spun the car around and threw it into drive. She pulled out onto the highway cutting off a truck who blared its horn at her. She opened an energy drink Tom had bought earlier but left on the seat unopened and took a swig. There was going to be a new Becca now. One who took no one’s shit. 


Later that evening Becca sat at the small motel table in her room. She was going through the loot they had accumulated over the past year. She found a bag of cash that she didn’t know about and had just finished counting it. Twelve thousand dollars was a lot of money. More than she had ever seen. Why did Tom always tell her they were broke? There was a bang on the door. It must be the pizza I ordered, she thought and rose from the chair. Another bang on the door before she could reach it. “I’m coming,” she called out, grabbing a twenty from the table. She was going to tip big, why not share her good fortune? She opened the door and dropped the cash. Standing on the other side was her father, and the jogger. “No,” her mouth formed to say, but no noise came out. She took a step back into the room in horror of what she was looking at. With arm extended they entered, grasping for her. “No! Why are you here? Tom was driving!” she said to the jogger then looked into her father’s dead eyes. “You deserved what you got, you son of a bitch! There is no revenge for you,” she said in defiance. Becca was a new woman and wasn’t going to take shit from her father alive or dead. She reached behind her and pulled the hunting knife out of her belt. The revenants charged her knocking her back onto the double bed with their mass. She could smell the grave on her father as he climbed on top of her. There wasn’t enough room for her to swing the knife. In desperation, she moved the blade between them. She turned the tip downwards, towards her own chest and plunged it in. She didn’t want her father to get his revenge, he should suffer. She smiled as the pain flooded her. She felt herself getting weak and with a last act of defiance, spit blood into her father’s face before succumbing to her wound.

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Ep.87 – Summer Slaycation! - What's on the Other Side of the Lake?!

Episode Notes

Something is going on on the other side of the lake from camp, and whatever it is it seems to be hungry for children...

Summer Slaycation by David O'Hanlon

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Ep.86 – Catalyst - A KILLER is Born!

Episode Notes

The so called "Angel of Death" has been killing lots of criminals in Strickfield, but how did she start and who can possibly catch her?!

Catalyst by Rob Fields

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Transcript:

Drake Kazmierczak had been on the road for a few hours. He had packed up and left his job as a detective at the Erie City Police Department. He was on his way to Strickfield to take an opening for a detective within their police department. Although Drake’s uncle, Jeffrey, was the chief of police, he didn’t actually take the job to be closer to his uncle – and Drake was very close to Uncle Jeffrey. No, he had a pretty good idea that a certain Angel of Death was currently residing in Strickfield; his months of research had told him that it was a good eighty-seven percent certainty. Drake tightened his grip on the steering wheel as he wondered how many guilty people the Angel of Death had taken. He knew it was many hundreds! It angered Drake every time the Angel of Death made the news. However, it never really got to him until the day he picked up a copy of the North Ridgeway Press and read about how the Angel of Death had claimed Annie Judge. Drake had known that Annie Judge was not a perfect woman by any stretch, but Annie was the love of his life. The two of them had shared so much in the many years that they were together. He came to know that Annie was carefree and uninhibited, qualities that he loved about her. However, when Drake had accepted his badge, he had accepted the law. It was this, along with what he had discovered about Annie’s darker tastes that would permanently drive a wedge between the two of them. And then he recalled the events that he had read about in the newspaper . . .   

Four Years Ago

Raigen Devereux walked into North Ridgeway High School. She walked into first period and took her usual seat. “Hey, Raige, you gonna show us your tits after we win the game tonight?” Jagger Nelson called out to her. Raigen turned to see the sneers of Jagger and the other football players. She responded by raising her middle finger. “You can’t even catch a football, Jagger. What makes you think you can handle my tits?” The other girls in the class cheered for this witty cheerleader. Just then, Raigen turned and gave her full attention to Annie Judge as she entered the classroom. She had been teaching many of the A.P. math subjects for the last several years. She almost always wore the same outfits: a blouse, a long skirt or pants, and loafers. Her face was a perfect oval with long blond hair and blue eyes. She always wore blush and matching lipstick. It was easy to see why guys appreciated her, even at thirty-six years old. Raigen came to know that she made damn good money, not referring to just her teacher’s salary. Raigen knew that Annie had a second life as a self-employed prostitute and drug pusher. But she didn’t go to other cities to sell her body. No, she sold her body to students at North Ridgeway High School, ones who could afford to pay her prices for fucking them, or students she desired to prey upon – legal age or not. Raigen came to know this information for two reasons. One, Miss Judge lived two blocks down the street from Raigen. Two, a month ago, Raigen saw a police car parked in Annie’s driveway, flashers on. Raigen couldn’t listen to the conversation, but her mother was a detective on the police force and was there that night. Raigen’s mother usually told her about what was going on in the privacy of their home, because she knew her daughter always kept her mouth shut. Raigen learned about the anonymous tip about the drug activity that was taking place at Annie Judge’s house. Nothing was found, however, in spite of the search warrant. It seemed that Annie Judge was always steps ahead of the police. Two weeks later, Raigen was out walking and had seen a police car at Annie Judge’s house again. Again, Raigen’s mother was on the scene. Raigen would later learn that Michelle Bailey, at fellow student at her high school, had recently gone missing. After Raigen’s mother had questioned several students, a few of them said Miss Judge__ was the last one to talk to her. In fact, the two of them seemed to be really close by the end of the last school year. It was then Raigen’s mother had told her that Michelle’s parents had filed a missing person’s report that Annie Judge would become Raigen’s top priority. Raigen’s mother had told her about the last night that Michelle Bailey was seen. It was at Skate World where Raigen’s mother had been told Michelle was picked up by a woman matching Annie Judge’s description, in a green Ford Fusion. Raigen knew that Miss Judge had such a car. Since Raigen had access to her mother’s computer, she was able to look into Annie Judge’s record, but she found no priors. Raigen knew that the police couldn’t keep detail on Miss Judge, because who was to say that she might not file a harassment lawsuit against them. No, Raigen would have to take matters into her own hands. This was a job for the Angel of Death! 

The next afternoon, Annie Judge opened her front door to a nice surprise. “Raigen Devereux? What brings you to my home?” Raigen faked a smile and held up a printout. “This is my school schedule. You’re going to be my math teacher again – Calculus. I wanted to ask you some questions about the class, but I obviously came at a bad time.” Annie wore a white bikini that left very little to the imagination. She didn’t have a pool out back but looked a little wet from both sweat and suntan lotion. Raigen wore a blue tank-top with thin shoulder straps, white short shorts with a leather belt, and sandals. Raigen expected Annie to just politely dismiss her, but she stepped aside and motioned for her to come in. After closing the door, she turned to Raigen. “What can I help you with?” Raigen reached into her purse and came up with a second printout and a calculator. “It says here that you’re requiring a mathematical calculator. Are you sure this calculator won’t be okay for Calculus?” As Annie took her calculator, Raigen noticed that she was checking her out – especially her endowed upper body. Then she pointed to the sheet. “These are graphing calculators. Yours is a scientific calculator. In Calculus, you’re required to present graphs to show your work.” “Okay, I’ll go to Office Depot and buy one.” As Annie handed Raigen back her calculator, she took hold of her left hand and held it. She finished by folding Raigen’s fingers over the calculator, caressing them as she did. “You’re a very bright student, Raigen.” She gestured to the kitchen. “Can I offer you something to drink?” “Sure,” Raigen replied. “Ice water, please.” Annie led Raigen to the kitchen, which had many top-of-the-line appliances. “I was about have some iced tea,” she said. “Well, I’d hate to impose . . .” “It’s not imposing if I’m offering.” “Okay.” Annie pulled two glasses out of her cupboard. She opened the refrigerator and bent down to retrieve the iced tea, making sure Raigen saw her almost-naked rear. She stood up straight and closed the refrigerator. Annie poured the tea and handed Raigen a glass. Raigen waited until Annie drank first, which she did. Raigen tasted the sweetened black tea with a hint of lemon. Annie motioned for Raigen to come into the living room. They sat down on the couch. Raigen drank her tea. “You have a really nice house, Miss Judge. You also have a very nice tan.” Annie stood up. “I want show you something.” Raigen put her glass down, got up, and followed Annie into the hallway. When they stopped, Annie gestured to an open doorway. Raigen looked inside to see a tanning bed. “I can tan all I want, and it pays for itself.” Annie took Raigen’s hand. “Come on.” Raigen was given a tour of the house. The more she saw, the more she knew that there was no way Annie could afford everything on her teacher’s salary alone. Raigen’s mother made better money as a detective, but even she didn’t have these luxuries. Still holding Raigen’s hand, Annie led her to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Thanks to Raigen’s highly photographic memory, she now knew every room and the objects in them. As Raigen examined the bedroom, Annie gently turned her against the wall and kissed her. Raigen’s plan to investigate Annie hadn’t included this! She would have to indulge Annie as much as possible until she could determine her connection to Michelle Bailey’s disappearance. As they kissed, Raigen let Annie undress her. Annie truly admired Raigen’s naked form, especially her upper body. “I imagine only a select few have seen these.” Raigen acted giddy. “Wow, Miss Judge, I never knew you liked girls.” She bit on her lower lip a little. “What now?” Annie eased Raigen onto the bed and then removed her own bikini. Raigen realized that Annie truly meant to have sex with her and knew she could not let that happen. Annie came onto the bed with her. Raigen let Annie kiss her again as she fondled her large breasts. Suddenly, something was beeping. Annie immediately stopped kissing Raigen and got off her. “You stay right here.” Annie went to her purse that was sitting on the dresser and removed her smartphone. Raigen saw her type in her password. Now she was texting someone. When she was finished, she locked her phone and put it down. She slithered back onto the bed, got on top of Raigen, and began kissing her again. As Annie was about to touch Raigen’s sex, she quickly turned away. “Raigen, what’s wrong?” Raigen acted afraid. “I’ve never been with a woman before.” Annie turned Raigen onto her back again. “You kiss just fine.” “I do like that. But . . . I don’t think I’m ready to go all the way yet.” Just then, the doorbell rang. Annie groaned. “Jesus Christ!” She got off the bed. “I’m expecting a delivery.” Annie went and put on a robe and flip-flops. She pointed at Raigen as she was walking out. “Don’t you move.” Annie left the bedroom but didn’t take her smartphone. Raigen got off the bed and snatched it. After entering Annie’s password, she went into the text messages. Jagger Nelson’s number was here, the jock who had commented on Raigen’s breasts earlier that morning. Actually, Annie was just texting with him. Jagger said he had taken care of their little problem and that it was buried away. Then Raigen saw the names of other North Ridgeway High students. But only one got Raigen’s undivided attention. Michelle Bailey! Raigen read through that conversation and knew that she had hit gold! The exchange was about how Michelle had evidence and would expose everything, unless Annie agreed to honor their bargain. Annie told Michelle to come over. Raigen saw that Michelle and Annie had had plenty of other exchanges. The last one was just around the time that Detective Devereux had said that the Baileys reported Michelle not coming home on that first night. When Raigen heard Annie finishing up with the delivery man, she quickly wiped her fingerprints from the smartphone and replaced it exactly the way it was before. She quickly drew back the covers and got into bed. Annie entered the room and smiled. “Well, look at you.” “Is everything okay?” Raigen asked innocently. “Fine . . . Just fine.” Annie’s smartphone went off again. She spun around and snatched it up. After reading the text, she was annoyed. “Raigen, honey, I need to take off for a little bit. You can stay in bed until I get back.” Raigen feigned a yawn. “I guess I’ll keep it warm for us.” She turned and faked falling asleep. She heard Annie moving into her walk-in closet and getting dressed. Before she left the room, she lowered herself and kissed Raigen’s cheek. Raigen waited until Annie was gone before she got out of bed to investigate. Annie had taken both her purse and her smartphone. Raigen got dressed and found her own purse. She pulled out a pair of plastic gloves and put them on to begin her investigation. After coming up with nothing, Raigen remembered that Annie was smart enough to outmaneuver the police. Then she remembered there was one door near the hallway Annie hadn’t shown her. She went to it and saw that it was locked – with a deadbolt. Raigen dug her lock-picking tools out of her purse and returned to the door. It took her under a minute to pick the deadbolt. She turned on the light and went down into the basement, taking a chance on the possibility of cameras. Raigen looked around and saw it was an ordinary live-in basement. She didn’t detect any cameras. She examined the laundry room in a far corner, and then the pantry. Nothing special. She looked around the main room. Just a couple of couches and an HDTV with a nice surround sound setup. It struck Raigen odd that there were no movies on any of the shelves, just math books. What had the police missed when they searched this house? Then Raigen understood . . . Nothing had been disturbed in most of the rooms, nor down in the basement. Raigen was sure that Annie let the police go through every room in the house. But they didn’t look hard enough!  Raigen took a math book off the closest shelf and opened it. Nothing! She opened a second one. Still nothing! She opened a third . . . Paydirt! Inside the hollowed-out opening were little Zip-Lock baggies of pure pharmaceutical grade ecstasy. She closed the book and put it back, along with the other two. She opened another book to find more little drug baggies – mollies. When she closed the book, she saw that the two drug books were geometry books. She opened another geometry book to find amphetamines. She put the book back. But what was the connection to Michelle Bailey? Raigen did more investigating. And then she found a Scooby-Doo clue along the wall in between the two corner rooms, a dusty footprint – half of one. Raigen put her hands on the sides of the full-length picture and pulled. The right side gave way. She opened the picture to reveal a room that was right out of Fifty Shades of Grey. She entered and saw the many sexual aids, the king-sized bed, and the physical medium that lined almost every shelf. On the spines of the discs were names – including Michelle Bailey. She took the case and opened it to reveal the disc inside. She took the disc and put the case away. Then Raigen discovered the backpack in the corner and looked inside to find a couple of schoolbooks, which belonged to Michelle Bailey. Next to the backpack was Michelle’s purse containing critical evidence: her wallet with her student ID . . . and her smartphone! Raigen knew that Miss Judge would be back at any time. She would have to get home and examine her acquisitions – stat! She returned everything as it was left and went back upstairs. After relocking the deadbolt, she left Annie a note saying that something came up and would make it up to her later. Raigen made it home and went to her bedroom. She turned on her TV and disc player. She put the disc inside and played it to see a homemade porno of Annie, Jagger Nelson, and Michelle Bailey. Raigen knew that Michelle Bailey didn’t even have her driver’s license yet. And these two were both having full-blown sex with this young girl. Raigen turned Michelle’s smartphone on, quickly hacked the login screen, and went right to the text messages app. Again, some interesting names – just like on Annie’s smartphone. Miss Judge and Jagger Nelson were both contacts. The conversations she read were quite intense. At one point, she was really into their sex that was on the disc. As she read more, Michelle mentioned that she was pregnant. Raigen looked at the thread with Miss Judge. Michelle asked for more of her special stuff. Some of the words here were misspelled badly; Raigen determined that Michelle had become a drug addict. She got her confirmation when one of the text bubbles asked what Annie had shot her up with. Suddenly, Raigen heard screaming and looked back to the screen to see a different video of Jagger just abusing Michelle as Annie edged him on. She fast-forwarded the video and kept her eyes open for anything unusual. Ultimately, Michelle hadn’t been killed in any of the videos, but she had been sexually abused time and again. At the ends of the latter scenes, Jagger had injected Michelle with what was probably pure heroin. Raigen now knew that Annie preyed on her students – underage or not. When a student would likely need help in one or more of her math classes, Annie would offer to tutor the student herself at her own house, which was not against school rules. The study sessions probably started off innocently enough. Then she would make her move on the student, much like she did with Raigen. The students that succumbed to her charms would eventually end up on those discs down in that secret room. In the case of Michelle Bailey, she was an easy lure into Annie’s web. She found herself sharing in drugs, then sex not long after. Michelle became hooked on heroin and needed Annie to keep providing it. The price was her body, which both Annie and Jagger had abused time and again. Michelle became pregnant as a result of Jagger. Michelle attempted to blackmail either one or both of them, but she would discover that she was in way over her head. Raigen needed confirmation and knew exactly how to get it!

Raigen was sitting on Annie’s steps to her side garage entrance when she pulled in. The garage door came down as soon as the car stopped. Annie got out of the car. “How did you end up in my garage, Raigen?” Raigen pointed to the back doorway. “Unlocked.” Annie unlocked the side door and opened it. When they were in, Annie closed the door and put her purse down. She snatched Raigen into her arms and gave her a long, lustful kiss. When it was finished, Raigen stepped back to catch her breath. “You left me before, you naughty girl,” Annie purred. Raigen pecked her lips. “Do you have any more of that iced tea? I’d like some before we fuck.” Annie laughed a little and walked to the refrigerator to get the pitcher of iced tea. She filled two glasses and handed Raigen one. “I can’t stop thinking about you, Miss Judge,” Raigen said, in a lustful tone. “I’ll teach you so much, honey.” Annie drank her tea. Raigen took a little bit of iced tea into her mouth. When Annie had finished hers, Raigen spit the tea in her mouth back into the glass and put it down. “Aren’t you going to . . . to drink your . . .” Annie slumped to the floor and was sleeping peacefully. 

Annie stirred. “Wha . . . wha . . . What the fuck?!” She began to struggle. “Now is that any language for a school teacher, Miss Judge? Or should I simply call you Annie?” Annie stopped struggling. “Raigen?! What are you doing? I can’t see anything! Untie me!” Raigen turned on the lights. “What the fuck? This is – !” “That’s right, Annie. I found your little playroom. Nice thing about it: no windows – and soundproof.” Annie was bound to the bed with bungee cords. Raigen held up a soda can. “Oh, I hope you don’t mind since I drugged the iced tea.” After Raigen finished the soda, she slithered onto the bed and looked down into Annie’s face. “That’s quite a collection of homemade porn – with many underage students.” She raised a hand to her ear. “You hear that? That’s you and Stephanie Drabick out there on your TV.” She put her hand down. “Stephanie was a straight-A student. Eventually, she went wrong. The day she was expelled, she was coked out of her gourd.” Annie struggled to free herself again. “Your mother put you up to this! You knew she was over here – snooping around!” Raigen held up a copy of the local newspaper. “According to the Press, Michelle Bailey was reported missing. In other words, public knowledge. Mama doesn’t even know I’m here.” I leaned in. “Or what I’m about to do.” Annie stopped struggling and yelled, “Untie me, you little shit!” Raigen gave her an evil look, which made Annie gasp. “I’m hardly little. In fact, you’re about to satisfy my bloodlust.” She slithered back off the bed. “You’ve ruined many innocent students in our high school. Seeing all those discs, you’ve been doing it for years. And for what? To satisfy your insatiable appetite for sex?” Raigen moved to her table and picked up some photos. “I’ve been quite busy today, learning about what happened to Michelle Bailey.” Raigen turned the first photograph around and showed it to Annie, then another. “She was burned alive and buried in a forest outside North Ridgeway. You orchestrated the whole thing.” Annie was horrified. “How did you find out . . . ?” “Where Michelle was buried? I didn’t know. That’s why I needed help.” Raigen raised her eyelid. “Since you enjoy having threesomes in your movies, how about we have a threesome? Oh, I have to change the disc. Be right back!” Raigen left the room and returned a few minutes later, with Jagger Nelson secured to a wheelchair. He was just in his boxer shorts. Annie gasped in horror. “What did you do to Jagger?!” “Oh, you mean the cuts across his chest?” Raigen answered. “I tortured him until he told me everything. Jagger was your pawn in exchange for sex, drugs, and good grades. Guess that explains why he can’t play football for shit. Oh, and that disc you’re hearing now is the one with you, Jagger, and Michelle.” I raised my finger. “I know Jagger got Michelle pregnant.” Annie fired back, “She tried to blackmail me for money because she was pregnant!” “And you orchestrated her death; Jagger’s too drugged out and stupid to make plans like that.” I clasped my hands together. “Your days of being a sexual predator are over, Annie!” Annie gave Raigen a mocking look. “Oh, you going to call Mommy about Jagger and me? Go ahead! I’ll tell Mommy how sexy her little baby girl looks in her birthday suit. I’ll tell Mommy how nice and meaty your big, round tits felt in my hands. I’ll tell Mommy that you slept with your math teacher!” “Weren’t you listening, Annie? Mama will never know about tonight.” Raigen turned to her table and lit a candle. She picked up a spoon and a heroin packet. After mixing up the heroin, she prepared a syringe. “Okay, Jagger, let’s see how many of these it will take before you overdose. Jagger Nelson . . . let the punishment fit the crime!” Jagger struggled as Raigen attempted to tie a giant rubber band to his arm. She elbowed him in the face, dazing him. When Raigen finished preparing his arm, she administered the injection. Jagger was high in no time. Raigen turned to Annie. “What you’re getting will be much worse.” Annie yelled and protested as Raigen prepared a second heroin syringe. As soon as it was ready, she administered it to Jagger. “There you go.” Jagger’s head slumped back; he would never move again. Raigen turned and picked up a gasoline can. She opened it and soaked Annie with the gasoline. “Don’t do this, Raigen! Please! I am begging you!” Raigen pointed outside. “You hear that? That’s one of the scenes where Michelle begged you and Jagger to stop as you both sexually abused her again and again. Neither of you gave a fuck.” Raigen dropped the empty gas can. “Then Jagger doped her up. Here’s a mathematics question for you. What is the probability that one of your students might be a serial killer?” Annie finally opened her eyes after shaking the gas away from them. Then she looked at Raigen. “You are not a serial killer! You’re much too young!” Raigen took a ball gag from her table and secured it to her mouth. “I’m nineteen, Annie. I’ve been killing people since I was eight. It all started when a third-grade bully kept picking on smaller children on the playground at my elementary school. One day, he went too far and fatally stabbed another kid with a pocketknife. He needed to be punished. Getting a knife from the school kitchen was easy enough. Stabbing him once in the stomach during lunch period got the job done. No one even looked my way.” Raigen picked up a box of matches. She took one out and lit it. “Annie Judge . . . let the punishment fit the crime!” Annie gasped when she saw Raigen’s evil face. “Oh, God! It’s you?! You’re the Angel of Death?!” Her speech was muffled, but Raigen understood her completely. Raigen tossed the match at Annie. Her body was engulfed by fire almost immediately. Her screams were still muffled. Raigen stepped out of the room and watched her thrash wildly as she burned. Soon she stopped moving forever. Raigen got undressed and threw her clothes into the fire. Raigen picked up a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. She didn’t want the evidence to burn up when the police would find the bodies. Raigen had been wearing plastic gloves when performing the murders. She had all of the books containing the drugs neatly stacked on the couches. The discs and the pictures would also be found. Raigen used Annie’s lavish shower and cleaned herself good. From there, she dressed in her cheerleading outfit. She gathered her usual evidence of her being at the scene and took it with her. She would make her anonymous phone call to the North Ridgeway Police Department in a few days. In the meantime, she would dispose of her evidence and then be at North Ridgeway High School in time to cheerlead for the home football game.

Drake groaned as he realized he was now entering the village of Strickfield. He was still grief-stricken at what had happened to Annie Judge. Why, Annie? Where did you go wrong? Why couldn’t we have been happy? Then he focused on the Angel of Death. You had no right! NO RIGHT!! I know you’re here – in Strickfield! One way or another . . . I WILL FIND YOU AND PUT YOU AWAY!! That’s a fucking PROMISE!! Drake finally pulled in at the Strickfield Police Department and got out. He went inside to find his uncle waiting for him. “Drake . . . I was wondering when you’d finally roll in.” Drake smiled. “Uncle Jeffrey! Yeah, I just got here.” The two of them shared a brief hug. Then Jeffrey took Drake to his office and told him to have a seat. “You settled here in Strickfield yet?” Jeffrey asked. “I will. My apartment’s ready,” Drake confirmed. “I just have to get used to living here. My apartment’s near Strickfield University.” Jeffrey nodded. “You going to be okay with taking this job?” “You bet I am!” Drake declared. “I’m going to find the Angel of Death – and expose him!” Jeffrey sighed. “Drake . . . just one word of advice regarding the Angel of Death. Nobody, I mean nobody, talks about the Angel of Death here. We just don’t. Plain and simple. Now don’t go sticking your nose where it don’t belong. I offered you my open detective position because of your outstanding record when you worked in Erie City. You’re one of the two best detectives I know. Don’t make me regret bringing you on here.” Drake was irate. “Uncle Jeffrey, don’t you understand? The Angel of Death is a murderer! He’s literally taking the law into his own hands when he kills all these people.” Uncle Jeffrey shook his head. “Not people, Drake . . . criminals! Ones that the courts won’t touch. The Angel of Death is doing what we who are sworn to uphold the law can’t do.” Before Drake could further protest, Jeffrey raised his hand. “I don’t want to discuss the Angel of Death any further. Like I said, we simply do not talk about the Angel of Death here. That means you don’t either.” Just then, there was a knocking at the door. Chief Kazmierczak motioned for the girl to come in. “You sent for me, Chief?” the girl asked. “Drake, I would like you to meet Raige Devereux. She’s our college intern that I was telling you about. She’s also the other best detective that I know. Damn sharp mind on this one, much like you. She’s helped us solve all our toughest cases.” Then he looked her way, “Raige, this is my nephew, Detective Drake Kazmierczak. I’m going to stick you with him and let him shadow you from now on. I think the two of you will work very well together.” Drake barely heard a word of what Uncle Jeffrey had said to him. Once he had gazed upon this very beautiful angel, he was glad that he had come to Strickfield after all. 

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Ep.85 – Taco Tuesday - How HUNGRY Are You?!

Episode Notes

Who's hungry?! What could be less threatening than a taco? They're crunchy and delicious... and they certainly won't destroy your body and consume your soul or anything...

Taco Tuesday by Keith Tomlin

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Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcript:

My god, what is happening to me?  I’m trapped in my own body.  I can feel myself moving, walking around but I am not in control.  Sometimes, if I concentrate hard enough, I can see out of my eyes but that is becoming harder and harder to do.  I occasionally hear bits and pieces of muffled conversation but, as time goes by, that too is fading away. All I know is that I am slowly losing my mind.  I don’t think I’m going crazy but my memories are fading away, losing all of the details that make up my life.  I mean, I know my name is John Davidson and that I was born in Ohio but I can’t quite remember what city.  I know it started with an ’S’.  Sandusky?  Springfield?  I just can’t remember.  My childhood is gone along with most of my high school and college days.  I know that I currently live in Columbus, Ohio but the rest of my life is like looking into a foggy darkness.  The only memories that are clear are the events that happened the last few days.  I’m afraid that if I don’t keep at least that much fresh in my mind, there will be nothing left of me. I think it began a few days ago.  It was morning and I was standing in line at the coffee shop in the building in which I work.  I was still rubbing the sleep from my eyes when I heard a cheerful voice behind me. “Do you know the best thing about Tuesday mornings?  It’s not Monday!” I turned to see a man in this 30’s, dressed in a nice suit, grinning broadly.  I didn’t recognize him but I figured he must be new here.  It’s an unspoken rule that you never talk to others in line, especially this early in the morning.  Regulars to the coffee shop know this and everyone follows this tradition. “Yeah, huh.  I know,”  I said.  Not my most eloquent statement but it was early and I was trying to walk that fine line between being polite and trying to discourage him from further conversation. I turned and faced forward, hoping this would signal my unwillingness to converse but I wasn’t surprised when he continued talking. “It should be a great day, super-duper!  It’s supposed to hit 75 degrees with no chance of rain,” said the jovial voice behind me. I rolled my eyes, not turning around to look at him but giving a noncommittal nod and a low grunt. He continued, “I can’t believe that we’ll be stuck in an office on a day like this.” I made sure not to move a muscle, I didn’t want to send any hint of encouragement. “Say, pal,” he said, “you look like a man that enjoys a good taco.” Ok, I admit, this piqued my interest.  It was an odd thing to say to a stranger during the morning coffee rush.  It wasn’t just the words he said, it was also how he said it.  His voice had taken on an authoritative air and I had turned to face him without realizing that I had done so.  His eyes locked with mine and I could not look away. “Last night,” he stated, “I ate at this Mexican place that was out of this world.”  He sighed, a blissful look momentarily passing over his face before he continued.  “It’s a bit out of the way but, friend, it is worth the drive. Get the tacos.  Trust me, it will change.  Your.  Life.”  He pulled out a business card and handed it to me.  “Here’s the address, check it out.  You don’t want to live to regret it.” I took the card like a man in a daze.  I mumbled something and turned to face forward and realized that no one was between me and the counter.  The barista was asking if I was ready to order and, from the tone of this voice, this wasn’t the first time he asked.  I hurried to the counter and placed my usual order.  While waiting on my coffee, I took a look behind me and found that the man was gone.  I began to doubt that he was ever there until I felt the outline of a business card in my shirt pocket. The rest of the morning blurred by as usual.  I had the same worthless meetings, the same meaningless tasks. I nodded when I was expected to nod and shook my head when I was expected to shake my head.  I had thought that working at an advertising agency would be glamorous, that I would come up with clever ad campaigns, pitch ideas to grateful clients, and sit in on photoshoots with beautiful models.  Instead, I’m the guy that makes the visual aids to use in other people’s presentations.  If the client likes it, it’s because the account executive had an amazing idea.  If the client hates it, it’s because I screwed up the layout.  Oh well, it’s not all bad, one time I got to pick out the font. It wasn’t until lunchtime that I thought about that strange man again.  I had only a few minutes to grab lunch and I ran down to a burger joint on the corner.  As I bit into my sandwich, I realized that it tasted like cardboard.  The fries tasted the same way.  All I could think of was tacos and the thought of anything else sickened me.  I ended up throwing the hamburger and fries in the garbage and walking back to work, stomach growing. The rest of the day, I could think of nothing except tacos; seasoned ground beef, topped with lettuce and cheese in a toasted shell.  My distraction showed and I was asked several times if I was ok, once by someone who actually seemed concerned.  I assured everyone I was fine and I somehow stumbled my way through the rest of the workday.  At 5:00 pm, I left work and immediately drove to my favorite Mexican restaurant.  As I parked the car, I realized that the thought of the tacos from this place turned my stomach.  I sat in my car confused, my stomach growled, demanding food, but the thought of eating here made me retch.  I finally remembered the business card in my pocket.  I grabbed it, ripping my shirt in the process, and looked at the address printed on the card.  I threw the car in gear and sped out of the parking lot. I drove out of town and, after a 35-minute drive, I pulled into a parking lot in front of the restaurant listed on the card.  This strange building looked out of place, a one story structure made out of heavy gauge steel sheets, glowing with neon light.  It looked a strange sight, this neon monstrosity sitting at the edge of an empty field in the middle of nowhere.  My stomach ached, huger pains shooting up into my chest.  I quickly shut the car off and scurried inside.  I don’t remember much about the inside of the place.  I recall there was a strange-looking man, small and lanky, who lead me to a seat at a rough wooden table.  He slipped away without saying a word.  I also seem to recall other people, some writhing on the floor, but I can’t be sure that was real, everything seemed like a dream.  After a minute, or maybe an hour, the small man returned, bearing a plate full of tacos.  He placed the plate in front of me, nodded, and disappeared again.  Well, to be honest, he could have been standing next to me the whole time, I only had eyes for the tacos.  I quickly grabbed a taco and brought it up to my nose, taking a deep breath.  For a second, I thought I smelled rancid meat, mildew, and rot but that was quickly replaced by the tantalizing scent of taco meat so fast that I doubted I even smelled it in the first place.  Hands shaking with anticipation, I took my first bite. Pure ecstasy.  My god, every nerve ending in my body seemed to explode with pleasure.  I was shivering so badly that I could barely hang onto the taco.  I could feel every inch of my body pulse with orgasmic delight.  I took a second bite and the feeling increased tenfold.  I could feel every hair follicle standing on end, each one so sensitive that any movement would send shivers of pleasure coursing throughout my entire body. I was so erect that I ached, my penis straining against my underwear so hard that I thought it would burst out of my pants.  Every breath I took stoked the fires of my pleasure; each movement sent waves of shivers down my spine.  I climaxed over and over and over again.  I slid down the chair, ending up on the floor.  I have no idea how long I laid there, twitching with the slightest breeze, sated and sore.  I eventually struggled to my feet and stumbled out of the restaurant but I have no recollection of driving home. Next thing I know, my alarm is going off.  5:45 am.  I am still spent, every inch of my body aching.  The thought of moving sickened me, but after trying three times, I finally make it out of bed.  It never crossed my mind to call in sick, I was operating solely on autopilot.  I brushed my teeth, showered, shaved, dressed, and drove off to the office, all done in a daze, each movement born of repeated gestures I did thousands of times before. I didn’t snap out of it until I was standing in line at the ground floor coffee shop.  A coworker tapped me on the shoulder. “Damn, John, you look like shit.  Late night?” the man said.  It took me a moment to come up with a name for that face…  Steve, no, Stevens, Chad Stevens, from Accounting. “Yeah, not feeling the best, Maybe food poisoning…” I mumbled.  As soon as I said poison, it was like flipping a switch.  My stomach started to rebel and my bowels turned to water. I ran out of the coffee shop and stormed into the men’s room.  I dove into a stall, barely making it before I painted the back wall with what little was left in my stomach.  I quickly pulled down my pants and emptied my bowels violently.  My whole body broke out in a sweat, my suit sticking to my skin.  After several rotating rounds of puking and shitting, I finally felt a cold numbness come over my body.  I cleaned myself up as best I could and limped out of the restroom.  On the way out of the building, I vaguely remember a few people gasping when they saw me but I ignored everything except moving my foot to take the next step. Just like the night before, I didn’t remember the drive home.  My next clear memory was sitting on my bathroom floor, head hanging over my toilet, my body naked and covered in sweat.  I had no idea what time it was or how long I have been there.  All I knew is that I kept vomiting over and over, an endless heaving into the porcelain bowl.  There was nothing in my stomach to bring up but I kept retching.  My stomach was on fire, burning pain shooting up my torso.  I began puking up blood, first just a tinge of red in the bile that I was bringing up.  That tinge quickly turned into a crimson flood as I felt things inside me begin to tear.  The blood soon became chunky with bits of tissue as my body began to purge itself of its internal organs.  The chunks became larger and I struggled to pass bigger and bigger pieces.  The heaving became a torrent as my muscles locked up and I became a gruesome parody of a fountain statue that gushed blood and guts instead of water.  Time lost all meaning as I sat there frozen, watching my life’s blood spill out all over the bathroom floor.  Finally, after an eternity, the muscles let loose and I collapsed.  The searing pain had been replaced by a dull ache.  I lay there on the edge of unconsciousness until I felt a new pain, this time in my bowels.  Blood began to pour out of my ass as the whole process began again, this time from a different orifice.  I tried to scream but could only manage to weep. Sometime later, I woke up.  I didn’t remember passing out but I must have been unconscious for quite a while.  The floor of the bathroom was a puddle of congealing blood and bits of flesh, already starting to crust over.  The buzzing of a dozen flies filled the air as I opened my eyes.  It took a second to realize that the pain was gone, replaced by an emptiness, a coldness, a dark void.  It was a very peculiar feeling, I could tell my body was freezing and I should be shivering with cold but I felt no discomfort.  The side of my head was stuck to the white tile floor and I had to struggle to peel my cheek from the carnage that trapped it.  This was repeated for every part of my body that was submerged in the mess and left me panting and weak.  My arms and legs shook with effort as I crawled to the bathtub and flopped over the edge of it.  Using the last of my energy, I turned on the faucet and flipped up the plunger to engage the shower.  I remember watching the water start to fall on my face as I blacked out once again. My next conscious memory was standing in front of my dresser mirror, adjusting a blue and white striped tie.  Shocked, I looked down and realized that I was dressed in my one my nicer suits, my suit jacket neatly folded on the bed.  It was bright, the early morning sun was shinning through the bedroom window.  I started to leave the room but stumbled as I found it very difficult to make my legs move.  It was as if I had to concentrate on every movement, each step feeling as if it were my first ones.  I stumbled past the bathroom and stopped dead, looking at the immaculate floor.  There was no sign of the bloody mess I expelled.  I walked into the bathroom, frantically looking for any sign that it really happened, that I wasn’t going crazy.  Finally, as I tore the room apart, I found a thumbnail sized hunk of flesh stuck to the back side of the shower curtain.  Seeing that, I dropped down on the toilet seat and wept, not knowing if I was glad it wasn’t a dream or overwhelmed because I hoped it was. I sat there for hours, until there were no more tears left.  I stood and moved over to the sink and splashed water on my face.  I wanted to cry again after I realized that I could not feel the temperature of the water.  I could tell it was wet but it could have been scolding hot or freezing cold, the temperature didn’t register on my skin.  I pinched the back of my hand and felt nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing, I could feel pressure, I knew that my fingernail was pressing hard into my skin but there was no pain, only numbness. I had to find out what happened to me and the only place I could think of to start was the taco restaurant.  As I walked through the house and out to the car, I began to relearn how to control my muscles, my legs started to lose their jerky motion as I continued to use them.  It took a few minutes of driving before I was able to lightly press the gas or brake pedal instead of jamming each one to the floor.  Jumping on the highway, I drove out of town, heading to the country, towards the restaurant.  I realized that thinking about those tacos did nothing for me, in fact, food in general held no interest, even though I would guess it’s been over a day since I ate.  I was not hungry, I was just… empty. After a half an hour or so, I pulled into the driveway of the restaurant, or at least where the restaurant had been.  Looking around now, all I saw was an old, dilapidated barn next to a corn field that stretched as far as the eye could see.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the spot and yet, how could it be?  I got out of the car and wandered around the lot, looking for any sign of the restaurant.  The barn was filled with old farm equipment, rusty and tangled in weeds.  I made my way though the ancient junk to a rickety wooden ladder that led up to a hay loft.  Leaning out an opening in the loft, I gazed at acres and acres of cornfields.  I was about to turn away when I noticed a clearing in the field behind the barn.  Straining my eyes, I could make out a series of large circular patches burned into the ground.  It looked familiar, like something I may have seen in a documentary on the sci-fi channel. Excited about finally having something I could investigate, some possible answers to the myriad questions I had, I turned to make my way back down the ladder.  Suddenly, I felt a presence, something lurking behind me.  I spun around before realizing that it wasn’t behind me, it was in me, a shadow on my mind.  This dark entity grew larger and began seizing control of my body.  I tried to fight back but it grew too strong, too fast.  I was ripped from my mind and plunged into a wold of darkness.  Time lost all meaning and I struggled not to go mad.  Hours, maybe days passed and I continued to plunge deeper into darkness.  I used to be able to see out of my eyes if I concentrated but now that has slipped away from me.  I can no longer feel any sensation outside of the void.  All I have left of me is my memories and those too are fading away.  I don’t remember where I was born, where I live, or even what my name is.  My whole life is gone, every memory that makes me what I am is vanishing.  I keep trying to remember whatever I can, to keep it fresh in my mind but each minute I seem to lose more.  The last thing I remember is walking into a barn filled with old farm equipment and that too is fading.  Dear god, I am fading.  I am lost. ———————— Chad Stevens looked at his watch and shook his head with impatience as he looked at the three people in front of him in line at the ground floor coffee shop.  He hated his job, he hated his coworkers, and he hated that, as the newest hire, he had to pick up coffee every morning for everyone in accounting, even though he worked there over three years.  Sighing, he checked his watch again. “Do you know the best thing about Friday morning?  It’s not Monday!” said a voice behind Chad. Chad hung his head and ignored the man behind him. “It looks like a great day, peachy!  It should only reach the high 60’s with a slight chance of rain,” said the voice, sounding too happy for this time of the morning.  “It should be a crime that we’re stuck in the office on a day like this,” he continued. There was something familiar about that voice and Chad turned to see who spoke. “John! Wow, you look a lot better, man,” Chad exclaimed.  “The way you tore out of here on Wednesday, I figured you would be in bed sick for at least a week.  I heard it took the janitorial crew two hours to clean out that bathroom stall.  How are you feeling?” Chad said, looking concerned. “Me, I’m super duper! Never been better!” John said, with a huge grin on his face.  “Say, pal,” he said, leaning close to Chad, “you look like a man that enjoys a good taco.”

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Ep.84 – The Black Museum - A Collection of Horrors Awaits!

Episode Notes

Antiques are so cute, a fun waste of money with an educational flavor... Unless the history is dark and gruesome... and EVIL.

The Black Museum by John Oak Dalton

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Transcript:

They were taping the Halloween special at the visitor center in Ipswich because they couldn’t afford Salem at Halloween but fuck it, Steve thought, the rumor was this was the last season of the show anyway.  He would just say in the cold open they were in Salem and who would know the difference. There was a guy with a Jim Abbott rookie card which wasn’t worth much, but the guy was telling a good story about seeing him play at the University of Michigan, so they’d probably use it in the episode.  They only had a trickle of people here wanting their junk to be appraised for the show so they would have to take what they had. Junkin’ Coast to Coast had been broadcast for seventeen years on a second-tier cable channel and had been steadily declining in viewership since the original host had the temerity to kill himself.  It used to be called Junkin’ with Joe but Shit with Steve didn’t have the same ring to it so there you go. The bitch of it all, in Steve’s mind, was fucking Joe died with a belt hanging around his neck and a bunch of furry porn around his feet, but all of that has been conveniently forgotten and Steve was never going to be considered as good as the original guy. His videographer Yvonne had the baseball card guy squared up on a head and shoulders shot and was half turned away texting somebody.  She had been his primary shooter on the East Coast, and since the budget of the show kept shrinking year over year they traveled less and less and stayed closer to New York, and Steve’s other videographers in other parts of the country dropped away. But even though they spent a lot of time together when they were shooting the show, and stayed at the same hotels and ate together every night, they had never hooked up.  Never even brushed hands.  Yet Steve felt like Yvonne was breaking up with him. This old lady comes up with another fucking Blenko vase and then after that was a lull, and Yvonne stepped out into the cold fall night and called somebody.  Steve watched through the windows of the visitor center.  When she hung up Steve went outside to confront her. “Are you looking for another job?” “It’s the last show of the season, Steve.” “Yeah, but we’re starting again in Portsmouth in January and people have always cleared out a bunch of shit over the holidays.” Yvonne shook her head.  “I’m hearing this is it.  Even if it isn’t I gotta keep an eye out for me.” Steve pointed at her cell phone. “Who was that?” Yvonne just shrugged.  “It was Rich, he’s on that dive bar show now where they show people how to fix them up, make a new drink menu, that kind of thing.” “Where he went when he fucking cut out on Junkin’, yeah.” “That’s not how he sees it but yeah.” “The asshole who hosts that?  We were at the upfronts in Boston with the network guys, and he was a douchebag to everybody.” “Yeah, but Rich says that’s only when he drinks.” “The whole premise of the show is him fucking drinking!” “Well, Rich says he needs a second shooter, so…” “So you’re the first shooter on my show!” Yvonne just looked at him, then slides her eyes back through the window of the visitor center.  Steve follows her line of sight and sees a guy in coveralls with a little book under his arm, and fuck my life if that isn’t probably a Civil War diary about somebody nobody gives a shit about. So Steve just set his jaw and Yvonne followed him back into the visitor center.  A blast of warm air and close smells hits them. “Hey, thanks for coming out to the show, if you’ll sign this release we can sit down and I can check out what you have there.” The guy looked pretty nervous up close and only gives a little bird-like nod.  While he is scratching his name on the clipboard Yvonne holds out to him the fake smile dropped from Steve’s face. “Hey, can I look at this while my videographer sets up real quick?” “Sure, man, that’s why I brought it.”  the guy said.  “I found it when I was cleaning out my uncle’s attic.  He passed over the summer.” Steve swallowed hard and takes the small, soft-edged book while Yvonne gets ready to clip a lavalier mic on the guy. Steve frowned with distaste and puts the book down quickly on a nearby table.  Both Yvonne and the guy look at Steve with surprise. “Take that mic off, we can’t talk to this dude.”  Steve said with finality. The guy in the coveralls raised his hands in mock surrender. “Hey, man, I just want to know what I have there.” Steve looked at him steadily.  “It looks like you have a diary bound in human skin, and I don’t dick around with shit like that.” Now the guy looked more surprised than he did before.  He holds his hands open wide. “I-I didn’t know that.” “You said you got that from your uncle?  Maybe you should turn that over to the police.” “The police?  What?  It ain’t like that.” Steve just shrugged.  “I don’t care what it’s like, I’m not going on camera with a book made out of somebody’s skin.” Yvonne retreated behind her camera and doesn’t check her cell phone, for once. The guy in coveralls looked through the window of the visitor center to the darkness beyond, where nobody else is coming to bring their old crap tonight.  Then he looked square at Steve. “Okay, this is the straight story, man.  I’m a plumber, okay, I work for the city, we get this call there’s water running out of this old abandoned building, way down by Choate Bridge.  We go down there, water running across the street, eventually I gotta break into the place, look for a busted pipe, see?” “This is the most boring fucking story that involves a diary made of human skin I have ever heard.” “Okay, okay, so wait a second, I get in there, I shut off the pipe, I start looking around a minute.  This old boarded up place is full of all kinds of shit.  It looks like medieval torture shit and a bunch of other stuff I don’t know what it is, but there’s probably some money in all that, right?  But I can’t haul all that out with my partner just outside so I just grab this book off a shelf and thought I would bring it here tonight, see if this shit was worth anything.  My grandma watches your show, you know?” Steve is actually able to ignore this comment because his mind is working, working. “What’s your name, dude?” “Why you got to know my name?” “I’m not calling the cops, I just want to know what to call YOU.” “Jimmy.  Jimmy Corey.” “So what other kind of stuff was in this place, Jimmy?” Jimmy shrugged.  “Maybe some other weapons, some guns and shit, but I’m not touching somebody else’s guns.” “I have a feeling that was a good idea.  Just hang loose a second.” Steve lifted his chin, and Yvonne follows him to the corner, out of earshot. Yvonne looked at him like he was crazy. “Yvonne…I think this dude here found a Black Museum.” Yvonne arched a brow at him.  “A BLACK Museum?!” “Jesus, not that kind of Black, calm down a minute—“ “Now I have to calm down?!” “It’s not that kind of Black Museum!!  The original was in London, but now it refers to any place where somebody has collected artifacts from various crimes…on the circuit, you know, the world I live in…sometimes you hear about private collectors…” “You mean people that want like, a picture a serial killer painted, shit like that?”

“I mean, that’s a mild example, but yeah.” “We’ve never seen anything like that come through.  You sure that is human skin?” “Yeah, it is.” “So what do you want to do?” Steve looked back at Jimmy. “We need to get this guy to take us to that place.” “What?  Why?” “Just trust me.  And when we get there, don’t stop rolling tape for anything.” “My contract says I’m done at 7:30.” Steve shook his head angrily. “Forget about 7:30!  We’re looking at Season 18!  Believe me.” “Uh-huh,” Yvonne said flatly.  “Season 18.” A few minutes later Steven and Yvonne piled into Jimmy’s panel van and headed towards the river. “You oughta do a whole show on the Choate Bridge,” Jimmy offered as they got closer.  “It’s one of the oldest bridges in the United States, if not THE oldest.” “Can someone take that bridge down and bring it into the Ipswich Visitor Center?  No?  Then it can’t be on the fucking show.” Jimmy just shook his head.  “It was just an idea.  And when did you shave your beard?” “What?” “He’s talking about Joe,” Yvonne threw in. Of course he’s fucking talking about Joe, Steve thought. “Never, Jimmy.  I never shaved it.” Jimmy blinks owlishly, then steers the panel van into a gravel lot next to a large, dilapidated building with the bridge looming close by, close enough that brackish water seeped up through the gravel all around them when they stepped out. Steve looked around.  “Somebody could urban renew this shit, put in a boardwalk, turn this into something.” “ It’s gotta fit in with the history, it’s how we do things around here,” Jimmy answered, as he fiddles the latch where a snapped-off combination lock hangs. Yvonne crowded in closer to Steve. “There’s some sort of shape over there.  Looks like a dead raccoon or something.” Jimmy doesn’t turn around. “I’m a plumber for the city.  If it ain’t got at least one shoe sticking up we don’t check it out.” Steve was about to ask Yvonne if she was rolling, get her focus back, when something came out of the darkness ahead with a sound like THWIP THWIP THWIP and suddenly the blackness around Steve was total. When Steve next opened his eyes something warm was running down his face, and he knew it was blood because Yvonne was directly in front of him and blood was running from a scalp wound on her head, too. Near her was a guy dressed all in black, with an ugly face tattoo, and fuck if the guy wasn’t swinging a bola from one hand. Jimmy stood stiff-legged off to the side watching as Yvonne stumbled in a loopy circle and carefully put the camera on the ground, seemingly in a daze. Then the man in black uncoiled like a serpent and let the bola go, and the rope wrapped around Yvonne’s neck, and the two steel balls at the end clapped against Yvonne’s skull and her legs went out from under her, and she quit moving. Steve’s vision swam.  Jimmy’s voice, growing shrill, cut through the gathering dark clouds. “You said you’d let her go!” The man turned his gaze on Jimmy, who took an involuntary step back.  But he kept on with his protests. “You said you’d let my girlfriend go if I got him here!” The man in black’s voice skipped down Steve’s spine.  “I did set her free.” It was the last moment you have before reality sets in.  Jimmy licked his lips. “Where is she, then?” “Over there.” Jimmy didn’t want to look.  “Behind them boxes?” “Behind them…what didn’t fit in them….” Jimmy fell to his knees, his eyes rolling back in shock. The man in black took a step forward, pulling a six-inch blade from an unseen sheath and opening Jimmy’s now-convenient throat from ear to ear.  Steve watched the blood make a bright red arc before he passed out. When Steve awoke this time the man in black had been busy.  He had strapped Yvonne, still only semi-conscious, to some sort of torture device that Jimmy had described as medieval.  But the strained part awake in the back of Steve’s mind told him, despite the terror flooding all the other parts of his brain, that it wasn’t built that long ago, maybe as recently as the 70s.  Could have been a sex toy somebody built in their garage, or a prop from a chintzy b-movie. Steve’s mind snapped clear when the cold eyes of the man in black sought him out. “You’re back with us, junk man,” the man said, and Steve thought, oh, we gotta do this shit like that. Steve got to his hands and knees, then slowly to his feet.  He surveyed the torture device from a short distance, with a critical eye. “So this is a Black Museum.” “Your unfortunate friend Billy did not lie about that.  I’ve been quietly working on my kingdom here for some time, and the pieces are almost complete.” “That bola?” “It was used by a teenager in Mexico City in the early 2000s.  He threw it off an overpass through a bus window, killing the driver and causing the bus to flip, killing a dozen children.  He was listening to a band called Clowns Eat Little Girls and he said in court the music told him to do it.” “And the knife?” “It’s a Korshun with the serial number filed off, of course.  Translates to ‘Kite Bird.’  A former Russian Special Forces soldier used it to kill more than 20 prostitutes in the Balkans throughout the 90s before INTERPOL caught up to him.” The man in black lifted Yvonne’s chin with one pale hand and studied her skull like you would a piece of fruit in the produce aisle. “We will start with this device,” and something in the voice now made Steve’s hair stand on end.  “It was built and used in the early 70s by the man who became known as the National Road Killer, and many a poor hitchhiker with fewer prospects than this young woman spent their last hours here.” He turned his eyes back to Steve again. “But you can set her free.  All you have to do is assist me with the final pieces of my red puzzle.” “So I can end up like Jimmy?  Thanks anyway, dude.” Yvonne mumbles.  “Steve…” The man in black frowned, and his disapproval is like a hand closing around Steve’s throat. “The simplest switch on this device starts moving joints in ways they should not go.  Then it gets more complicated from there for your friend.” Steve barked out a laugh. “You got this shit all wrong.  She’s not my friend.  She works for me.  And you can get camera people by the bagful in New York.” “Fuck you, Steve!”  Yvonne cried out, her voice warbling with desperation. “It’s the gig economy,” Steve shrugged. Steve’s comment even brings this stone cold killer up short. “Do you not even want to know what I want you to do?” “Lay it on me, scribble face.” The man in black waved the Russian blade in a slow, lazy arc.  Then it disappeared with a whisper back into its sheath. “This is a grand blade, one that has taken many lives, but several years ago, an elderly man brought a knife to your show, and you sent him away after telling him that the blade was worth very little.  That man was named John Wallace Hansen, and he died last year.  On his deathbed it was alleged he revealed he had killed a dozen women with that blade, but was never caught because he had made a pact with the devil.  He was probably never caught because of his fabulous wealth, which he also ascribed to his pact. I believe that knife now rests with his daughter.  I want—I need—for you to reach out to her and offer to re-evaluate that knife. Then do what you have to do to bring that knife to me.” “Where does she live?  If it’s Peoria, it’s gonna be a minute.” “As it happens she lives very nearby in Salem, where you taped the program her father appeared on.” Steve shook his head.  “You got something wrong.  We never taped a show in Salem.  We couldn’t get in there this time either.” “You had a beard back then.” The pain in Steve’s skull cleared, but his eyes began to see a red haze. “I never had a fucking beard.” “It was many years ago now.” “I’ve hosted this show seven years.” “No, before that.” “Before that…” Anger flooded through Steve’s rubbery limbs. “That…was…THE OTHER GUY!!” Without realizing what he was doing, Steve lunged at the man in black.  His hand instinctively went to where he had seen the tattooed man slip the knife away and suddenly Steve had it by the handle and was pushing the blade upward, upward, and it went under the man’s chin and through his tongue and stuck somewhere in the roof of his mouth before blood began gushing out through his teeth. He fell to his knees as Steve had watched Jimmy do, and with that in his mind he picked the bola up from where it lay on the concrete floor nearby and pulped the other man’s skull with it until even the twitching stopped. Steve started undoing Yvonne’s bonds with blood-slicked hands and as he looked closer at the device it was a fucking good thing it never started up, he might have puked. “Yvonne, what I said, it was bullshit.  That guy was never going to fucking let us live after I did what he wanted.” “Steve, what I said?  I meant it.  Fuck you, Steve.” “Fair enough, I got you into this.  We both got hit in the fucking head, that’s not great, we both said some shit.” “But I did what you told me to.  I never stopped shooting. “ Steve stops untying her for a short, surprised moment. “What?” “I never stopped shooting.” Steve looked over at the camera Yvonne set on the ground when they first walked in. “Oh shit.” Eighteen months later everything was working out fine for Steve.  He wasn’t charged with anything, and the footage made him a kind of hero.  There was renewed interest in his show, but Steve got too big for it and now was about to host a special on a major network, live from the original Black Museum in London, with the current curator from New Scotland Yard answering his questions. He had invited Yvonne to join him as a producer but she didn’t want to leave the dive bar show.  She had ended up hooking up with Rich, so maybe that was part of her plan all along.  Rich and Steve had mended fences, and Rich told him Yvonne hardly ever woke up screaming any more. Of course, as soon as Steve was cleared by the cops he went to Salem and found the daughter and bought the knife with what savings he had left, though the daughter had heard the rumors too and was happy to get rid of it.  Not for fucking free or anything, Steve noted. The first couple of days Steve didn’t do anything with it, but eventually he went down to the dumpsters behind his Astoria apartment building at night and waited for rats.  A couple of nights after that and he finally hit one after getting pretty good at throwing the knife, and also having plenty of targets. The very next day a woman who had dumped him came back into his life and they went to bed together right away and then she moved in a few weeks after that. But before she decided to move in Steve was able to kill another rat with the knife and the next day an aunt he never fucking saw anyway left him a couple grand. So fuck it, he started figuring out this dark web shit and advertised the knife for sale to collectors.  And he zeroed in on a guy in Philly who bragged about having his own Black Museum. Steve drove out there one weekend and this dweeb started showing him all the stuff he had squirreled away before he showed him any money.  Steve’s trained eye instantly saw his Hitler stuff was lumpy bullshit but the serial killer paintings were probably real so as soon as he killed the guy with the knife he took the paintings and a couple other things. The next day the network called about the live show.  So he was going to go back to the dark web.  These creeps shouldn’t be buying that shit anyway.  And guess what, he didn’t have to sign his name in blood in a book or go to the crossroads in some Southern town at midnight.  And if he actually did make a deal with the devil it was like he told Yvonne, TV was the gig economy, he’d probably already sold that shit.

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Ep.83 – Wilson Road - A Creature is Loose in the Woods!

Episode Notes

Two cousins saw something BIG and furry in the woods, now they have to investigate as the sun begins to set... We know curiosity killed the cat, but what did it do to the WOLF?

Wilson Road by Charles Campbell Buy the book at http://valleyboypublications.com

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Transcript:

There is nothing like a dirt road in the Deep South. The dust kicked up by your truck when you race up the hill after a long day of hard work. The occasional deer that looks back at you curiously when you round the corner is a sight to behold. There are snakes that slither across the dirt road to get to the other side of the woods. You will see hawks scoping out prey from the trees as you move down the dirt road. There are many surprises when you go up or down an old fashioned, in the woods, authentic dirt road. I should know. I grew up in a big house at the top of the hill of one of these roads. A road that was named after my family – Wilson Road. There is one story above the many that stands above them all. It was late summer and my cousin came running up the road. He was out of breath and it was a night none of us would ever forget. “Danny! You got to come down the hill!” Tanner hollered. He had his hands on his knees as he sucked in air like no tomorrow. “What happened?” Danny asked as he rose from his seat on the back steps. “I saw something down there. It took off in the woods. Go in the house and get the shotgun real quick,” Tanner said, finally catching his breath. “Was it a deer? You know we can’t shoot a deer with a shotgun,” Danny said and began to sit back down. “Don’t get back on your ass! Get in the house and grab the shotgun! It wasn’t any deer. I don’t know what it was exactly, I just caught a flash of it but it was big and it was an animal.” “You probably just saw a dog,” Danny replied as he turned to open the door. He’d grab the Remington that sat just inside the doorway. What the big house was not low on was shotguns. There were a few Winchesters, a couple of Mossbergs and four Remingtons. Danny grabbed the box of shells and Tanner was waiting for him at the edge of the dirt road. “Come on, I’ll show you where I saw it.” “I ain’t shooting a dog, Tanner, just telling you that now.” “It weren’t no dog! Come on!” Tanner wasn’t a small guy. He was a seventeen year old that hit his growth spurt at thirteen. He was six foot three and still had a little growing left in him. Danny was much smaller in stature by comparison, standing at just five foot six with a slender frame which made it kind of funny that he was the one in charge of the shotgun. Tanner lumbered down the hill like Sasquatch with Danny following close behind. Tanner pointed, “It was down there near the bottom of the hill, off close to the creek bed.” “Alright then,” Danny racked the Remington and stepped off the dirt road and led the way in front of Tanner. The two of them made their way down to the creek bed and Danny noticed something right off the bat. There was a litany of broken branches lying about. It was as if someone tossed them about haphazardly all over the ground. They were definitely out of place as the tree line was approximately fifteen yards or so from the edge of the creek bed. “You see anybody dumping their sticks down here?” Danny asked Tanner. “No, there ain’t no tire tracks. I don’t know why they’d lug all these branches down here by foot; be easier to run them over to the Langley dump,” Tanner answered. “Well, these limbs didn’t magically fly from the trees. We ain’t had no big winds in a couple of months at least and I was down here at the creek two days ago and these weren’t here,” Danny said. He did a three sixty to see if anything else jumped out at him. Tanner acted as if the limbs weren’t a big deal. The big deal was the something he swore he saw. “I don’t know nothing about the stupid sticks but what I saw was standing about where we are now.” “You see any prints?” Danny asked. Tanner was looking at the ground looking for that very thing. “No, but you know how this ground is. It don’t hold prints that good.” “True,” Danny said. “Let’s walk up the creek a bit.” Danny took the lead and Tanner followed. It was going to be dark soon but the two of them knew these woods better than they knew just about anything else in the world. “Keep your eye out for moccasins,” Danny warned. Tanner rolled his eyes to signify that Danny must have forgotten who he was talking to. Tanner fancied himself as the moccasin king. He had so many skins hanging on his wall that he lost count of them. “I don’t know where it could have gone. We’re almost up to the old finishing plant,” Tanner said. “You think it might have went in the plant?” Danny asked. “Could be. I just got a quick glance before it took off. It was big and dark. You’d think I was going crazy but I know what I saw and I ain’t smoked any weed in the last week if that’s what you’re thinking. That bad shit I got from Frog last time taught me the error of my ways,” Tanner said with a nervous chuckle. “Yeah, I don’t know where he got that shit. He must have grown that out by Langley Pond. It messed you up pretty bad. Glad it didn’t kill you,” Danny said and chuckled himself. Darkness was creeping up around them. They could still see the lights from the big house but it was quickly receding. “Wish I would have grabbed the flashlight out of my truck,” Danny said. “You want me to run up there and get it real quick?” Tanner asked. “No, you about died when you ran up there a little while ago. I’m not telling Nana you died of a heart attack while we chased your fake monster to the finishing plant. You got your lighter, don’t you?” “Yeah.” “We’ll just light a few sticks if we need to. We know our way around here.” “That we do.” There was a crash. It sounded like a boulder was dropped from the second story of the finishing plant. The two of them looked at one another and they knew they were going to find out where the noise came from. Danny broke into a jog and Tanner fell a little behind. The boys came up on the tricky part of the trek. They had to cross a narrow pipe on foot. One misstep and they would go tumbling into the creek below. Danny could walk it in his sleep. Tanner could move quickly across it in the stark light of day but he took measured steps in the narrow light. He could tell that he would probably have to take the long way back to the hill when they were done at the plant. No way could he balance back across the pipe in complete darkness. Good news is that Danny would take the long way with him. Danny stood at the end of the pipe patiently waiting on Tanner to finish crossing. He stayed quiet as not to startle his large cousin. “Alright, let’s go,” Danny said once Tanner cleared the pipe. The boys walked the grooved out path to the old plant. There was a redneck Hansel & Gretel trail of tossed cigarette butts and rolling papers. The abandoned plant was a cool place for the Valley kids to break shit. Danny suspected the crashing sound they heard on approach was one or more of those said kids screwing around the decrepit building. And it was probably one of those kids that Tanner saw at the creek bed. The sun was almost fully set with only the last haze disappearing, surrendering the day. It was a good thing they were wearing shoes with heavy soles because the crunch of broken glass under their feet as they got closer to the building was now prominent with every step. The darkness finally enveloped them completely and the night sky was star filled with a full moon that provided adequate light. There were no clouds in the sky and that was good. What the boys didn’t need was to be stomping around the inside of the gutted plant with zero visibility. Danny was very good directionally but complete darkness would definitely test his skill. “Let’s just stop for a minute and listen,” Danny said as he held the shotgun by his side. “I think you saw a buck, Tanner.” “It weren’t no deer, I know what a damn deer looks like,” Tanner whispered angrily. “Alright, shush,” Danny replied. The boys got quiet and listened. The wind had ceased and the crickets weren’t as noisy. They could hear some of them but not the overwhelming chorus that was common for this time of the day, in this part of the woods. Danny finally broke the silence. “Well, Tanner, I ain’t going in there unless we hear something. I don’t feel like tripping over something and breaking my neck. We can take the main road back. I know you can’t cross that pipe now,” Danny said. “Come on man, I didn’t make it up. Let’s wait about five more minutes and if we don’t hear nothin’, then we can scoot back. Just five more, ok?” “Alright then, five more and then we are out of here,” Danny replied. “Five minutes then,” Tanner said and no sooner did he get the words out of his mouth, there was another loud crash and it definitely came from the second floor of the plant. “Let’s go,” Danny said flatly. The boys entered the plant from what would have been the back entrance when it was functioning. Now there were entry points everywhere that the walls had crumbled. It certainly wasn’t a safe place to be screwing around, especially at night. What remained of the old stairs near the back entrance was a precarious stack of bricks that resembled stairs but there were chunks missing where you would have to really stretch to reach the next usable step. This wasn’t a problem for Tanner but presented a challenge for the shorter legged Danny. “Let me hold your lighter real quick,” Danny motioned for Tanner to hand it over. Danny flicked the Bic and carefully took the lead. Tanner stayed close behind so he could grab Danny if he fell backwards. The boys paused when another crash broke the silence. “Shit, it’s up there, all right,” Tanner whispered. “It’s not an it, it’s just some kids and they’ll piss their pants when they see us come up there,” Danny said. “Cuz, hope you’re right. What I saw weren’t no kids. Make sure that shotgun is ready,” Tanner said. There was no jest in his voice; there was a calm clarity that Danny didn’t recognize in his cousin. Tanner was never clear about anything so this gave Danny some inner pause to hear this unfamiliar tone in his voice. The two of them got to the second floor. Abandoned spindles were spread all around and the light from the night sky peeked through the many holes and craters in the walls. There were a number of large holes in the floor that would send you on a rapid descent to the first floor if you stepped fully into one – unintended booby traps that the boys would have to navigate in order to get to the sound’s source. There was another crash; bricks exploding back in the darkest corner of the second floor. It was completely engulfed in darkness and Danny was beginning to second guess their decision to chase Tanner’s beast. Maybe it wasn’t as imaginary as he’d thought just moments before. “It’s back there,” Tanner said and pointed. He had no reservation in his voice. It was more determination. Determination that they were going to find out what he saw and if they needed to pump it full of shotgun shells then so be it. “Watch your step,” Danny whispered back. “Stay close and follow my exact steps. It might still be some kids screwing around back there and I’m not shooting anything until I can see it.” “Gotcha,” Tanner replied in agreement and understanding. The wind picked up just a bit. The boys got closer to the dark side of the second floor and there was another explosion of brick against wall. Danny flicked the Bic again and held it out in front of him just for a second. He would have to give it to Tanner to hold the shotgun properly but he wanted to see if anything would reveal itself before they completely walked into the darkness. The boys heard the shuffling of what could have been claws but they still couldn’t see anything. “Ok then,” Danny said and handed the lighter back to his cousin. “Keep it lit.” Danny paused for a couple of seconds, held the shotgun out in front, ready to fire and hollered out, “Who’s back there?! Come on out now!!!” Tanner was steady with the lighter and his breath was measured. Danny couldn’t believe how calm his cousin was. Danny didn’t scare easy but he was beginning to feel something approaching fright but he fought the urge to be trigger happy. The boys stepped completely into the darkness and that’s when the red eyes turned to look at them. “Oh shit, shoot it, Danny, you don’t need to see it!” Danny fired the Remington into the darkness just below the red eyes. There was a growl of anger that shook the boys to their core. Danny chambered another shell and it screamed out of the muzzle with nothing but death as its intent. The red eyes were still there and the beast moved quickly. Danny was in the process of racking the third shell when the barrel of the Remington was sliced in half. The beast was in front of them now. Danny couldn’t believe his eyes. It was straight out of the movies, only it was much worse. The creature’s eyes were blood red and its canines were bared. It stood a good foot taller than Tanner and twice as wide. It was haunched on back legs. Tanner and Danny stepped back into the lit part of the plant and the creature walked toward them. The boys couldn’t just turn and run; they would surely step into one of those death traps. They had to back away slowly and hope for the best. As they stepped, the creature continued to follow. They should have just left this thing alone in the dark. Finally, the boys got a full body look at the monster. It was covered in black fur from head to toe. There was burnt hair and scorched flesh where the shotgun shells found their mark but did little but really pissed this thing off. It had the ears and snout of a wolf. It was a creature of muscle and destruction. It snarled in anger and had a hunger in its eyes. But, it also didn’t attack. It looked at the boys. Tanner and Danny were silently making their peace with the Lord as the creature was almost on top of them. They were going to die; no doubt about it. Tanner and Danny closed their eyes and wished for a quick death. Danny could feel the hot breath of the creature on his forehead and then it moved to Tanner. The calmness Tanner displayed just moments before was all gone. He pissed himself. The creature jumped into one of the craters in the floor and disappeared into the woods. Tanner and Danny kept their eyes closed for another minute or two. Tanner was the first one to open his eyes and he poked his cousin in the back. “I think it’s gone,” Tanner said nervously. Danny opened his eyes. He was still holding the shotgun. The creature had turned it into the sawed off variety. “Let’s just wait here for another couple of minutes before we go back out. Just in case he’s out there waiting,” Danny said. “Let’s not. If that thing wanted to kill us, he would have. Let’s just get out of here, get to the road, get back to the house and don’t say shit to anybody about this. That was a damn werewolf, Danny.” “Yeah, I wonder what it was doing back in that corner.”

“Well, we are on a need to know basis and we don’t need to know, let’s go!” Tanner shouted. And...that’s exactly what the boys did. They went home. They were asleep in their beds when Grandpa climbed up the back of the house and slipped into the attic. He’d transform and be down for breakfast. Grandpa was a good man. He wouldn’t kill someone unless he had to. When he transformed, he’d take out some of the deer around his property and then take his aggression out on the many bricks inside of the plant. It was better than ripping out throats and bringing the weight of the world down on his family. Grandpa was happy that the curse had skipped over Tanner but Tanner’s kid, if he ever had them, would be subject to the curse. And maybe that kid would succumb to the animalistic urges of the hunt. Fortunately for the Valley, the man that currently lived at the top of Wilson Road did not. THE END

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Ep.82 – Fun in Funeral - Clowning Around is DEADLY

Episode Notes

Clowns are funny, right? Well not when you find out the true dark secrets of these creatures that walk amongst us handing out balloons and laughter... Is that a chuckle you're hearing or a blood curdling scream?!

Fun in Funerals by David O'Hanlon

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Transcript:

The death of a Clown is no laughing matter. It leaves a bleak, unhappy void in the universe equal to the amount of Joy the departed had caused. Fennis Farcemeister, Whiteface of the Amityville shudder, had brought happiness to millions. His body rested in the lavender casket with his bright red shoes sticking straight up and his orange hair jutting over the side. Before him, a pedestal—too large for its contents—stood erect as a grim reminder of the task to come. The remainder of his shudder mourned in their own ways while they awaited the arrival of Pastor Crumb. “How are we supposed to close the lid?” Popsy Pringle asked gruffly, wiggling the toe of Fennis’ shoe. “Might as well just slap some Crocs on him.” “You don’t have to be in such a hurry, Popsy,” Sweet P. Cheepskate sobbed. Sweet’s brother, Blippy, put an arm around her shoulders and nodded in agreement. The twins were the shudder’s resident tramps. The tears rolled down Blippy’s rotund cheeks and disappeared in the smear of his greasepaint beard. The siblings both focused on the pedestal or, more accurately, the egg resting atop it. Blippy chewed his lip nervously and tipped his torn top hat respectfully. “We all know you’ll be the next Whiteface,” he said softly. “You don’t have to be so eager to take it. Callousness is for humans. Clowns are better than that.” Popsy groaned and gave his nose a squeak. “Spare me.” Blippy gasped at the insulting gesture and sobbed on his sister’s shoulder. Waldo Tatters’ tie-dye shitkickers clopped across the wood floors with his spurs jangling until he stood before the egg. Its scaly, vermillion shell was painted with Fennis’ likeness and locks of his hair snipped and glued to the sides. Every Clown had an egg in their shudder’s reliquary. Waldo traced his finger across the curve of the egg. He took off his cowboy hat and pressed it to his denim shirt. Rodeo clowns were rogues and rarely allowed membership in a shudder. Fennis saw beyond Waldo’s wily, psychotic, demeanor, however. “Don’t you worry none, pardner,” the cowboy said, lowly. “We won’t take too long.” “We’d better not.” Popsy checked his oversized watch. “Where the hell is Crumb? No one likes a sad Clown.” Sweet squirmed uncomfortably in her pew. She’d see a Pierrot once. It was the worst thing that could happen to a Clown. The Code called for funerary games so that the laughter of the shudder could carry the soul to the Palace of Joy. If the games didn’t appease the soul of the departed Clown however, it would become trapped in the void, and they would return as a Pierrot—a hideous, undead monstrosity that devoured flesh and spread coulrophobia. You can’t bring Joy if the audience thinks you might eat their faces. “The Code don’t cop to convenience,” Waldo reminded him. He looked at the flower on Fennis’ lapel. Its pedals danced in the artificial wind of the oscillating fan, but Fennis remained still. “Rather get on with the Chase myself, all the same.” “It’ll be a hell of a blow-off.” Blippy tugged the handkerchief from his breast pocket dragging out an extra three feet of multi-colored linen. He blew his nose on it and folded it back into his pocket. A sad smile stretched across his chubby cheeks. “Fennis will be able to rest easy in the Palace seeing the party we threw for him.” “Gonna be a different kinda party, if’n we don’t get a move on.” Waldo patted the egg and sighed. He turned to Popsy. “Who’s the peckerhead anyway?” “His name is Al,” a new voice said. “Al Musing.” The shudder turned their attention to the tiny, trapezoidal door leading to the church’s rectory. Pastor Crumb’s four-foot height made it through the door easily, but the prisoner he escorted on a leash took to crawling on his knees to fit through. Pastor Crumb jerked backward as the leather strap went taut. He huffed and waited for the prisoner to catch up, using the moment to attend an urgent itch south of his bulging belly. “Al doesn’t like Clowns,” the Pastor said. He adjusted the white collar beneath his second chin. “I imagine he’s really going to hate us after tonight.” The shudder laughed. Al tried to stand when eighteen-inches of checkered vinyl kicked him square between the shoulders. Popsy knelt on the human’s back and held his hand out to Pastor Crumb. “Enough propriety. Give me the biscuit.” Crumb took the revolver from the inside of his jacket and twirled it clumsily on his finger. He shook his head. “We have one more point of business.” He waved for Popsy to move. The Auguste Clown growled, but rose nonetheless. Popsy rolled his gloved hand theatrically and gave a phony bow. He slapped the toe of his shoe down on Al’s face. “There’s no reason for you to get up,” he said around the nub of the smoldering stogie between his yellowed teeth. “Get on with it, Pastor.” “Fennis Farcemeister was a Clown of the highest order. We gather here not just to honor the Code,” He glared over his shoulder at Popsy, “nor to anoint a new Whiteface. We are here to say a final goodbye to a Clown that was more than a mere leader or friend. Fennis was a mentor when we were ignorant, a father when we were alone, and a force of will when we were rebellious. He brought Joy to the humans like no other Clown before him, and in doing so he restored this shudder to a place of reverence among all Clown-kin.” “Amen, Pastor Crumb,” Sweet agreed. “Fennis did such wondrous works in his two-and-a-half centuries,” Crumb continued. “Why, if it weren’t for him, we might not even have the squirting flower gag. He took juggling to new heights, literally, by doing it on the tightrope. He restored the pooting bag to glory when he showed the humans how to make their whoopee cushions. There has never been a more beloved and potent Clown than Fennis, and never shall there be. We have made a grand day of remembrance; however, the time has now come to say our final goodbye.” “Goodbye,” they all shouted in unison. Pastor Crumb flipped the lid of the casket shut on Fennis’ corpse. It remained propped open by the bulbous toes of his shoes. The shudder chuckled at Fennis’ final gag. Crumb’s belly jiggled with raucous laughter. His laughter cut off as abruptly as hitting pause. His smile fell and the greasepaint did nothing to hide the dour expression etched on his face. “Al Musing, you have been chosen as the guest of honor,” Crumb grumbled. He waved his fingers to signal Popsy away. “A Clown is dead, a human must die. That is the Code to which both our kind are bound.” Al stood up slowly and tore the burlap sack off his head. He glared around the room at each of the Clowns. “You got to be fucking kidding me.” “Do we look like the joking kind?” Blippy asked. Sweet stood and sauntered to the casket. She dragged a wicker basket from underneath its stand and knelt with a smile toward Al before dumping the contents out. Her aquamarine hair tapered to fuchsia ends that acted like arrows directing all gazes to the struggling buttons of her unkempt hobo-chic blouse. It took great effort, but finally Al’s eyes jumped from the cleavage to the cleavers skittering across the floor. They were oversized and ancient, specked with rust and old blood, and accompanied by matching mallets. “So,” Al cleared his throat, “which one of you makes balloon animals?” “We all do, dummy,” Blippy informed him. “Good. Start with a cock and go fuck yourselves.” Waldo chuckled. “Pardner’s got some guts.” “I’ll be wearing them like a big, pink boa,” Sweet hissed sordidly. The blade of her cleaver scraped a divot in the floor. “I’ll keep you alive while I pull them out, so you can tell me how ravishing I look before I split your skull open.” “As appealing as that sounds, how about we just split and fuck each other silly?” Al winked and blew her a kiss. Blippy jumped up fast enough to knock the church pew over. “That’s my sister, dickweed!” “Your sister?” Al gave the Clown a critical onceover. “Your mom had an affair.” “You sonofabitch!” “Enough tomfoolery,” Crumb shouted. He jammed the revolver into Al’s waistband. “We’re not animals. We’ll give you a shot… but just the one.” “Fuck it. Why not?” Al pulled the leash off his neck and threw it down. “What’s the game?” “Time for games has passed,” Popsy said. “The Chase begins now. All you got to do is survive until midnight.” Al grabbed Popsy’s hand. The Clown jerked away, but Al held firm and turned his arm over to look at the face of the oversized watch. Forty-seven minutes remaining. “Probably be easier just to kill you all,” Al suggested. “That’s funny.” Popsy shoved Al away from him. “You’re a real comic… Al.” “Choke on my McNuggets, Ronald.” Al jogged for the doors. The Clowns set off giant party poppers, showering him with confetti and whooped with excitement behind him. Once he was outside, he took in his surroundings quickly. A polka dot Volkswagen Beetle was parked along the front of the Clown church which looked more like a converted funhouse with its colorful façade and odd angles. It was also smackdab in the middle of fucking nowhere. Rows of tombstones extended as far as he could see by the moonlight. “Think, Al. You need a plan.” He had a head start, a gun with one bullet, and five Clowns hellbent on murdering him in less than an hour. The outline of a mausoleum caught his eye. “You can’t spell ‘slaughter’ without a laugh.” A train whistle screamed inside the church. Waldo rubbed his ears. “Krusty H. Christ, Blippy!” Pastor Crumb mirrored Waldo. “You dolt!” “Sorry.” Blippy hung his head and tucked the whistle into his overalls. “I just wanted to let everyone know the Chase is starting.” “We’re all in the same room, dipshit.” Popsy slapped him in the back of the head. “Besides, Crumb starts the Chase.” Crumb patted Fennis’ corpse and proceeded to the pulpit. Popsy tapped the back of his cleaver against the metal head of the mallet until he got the precise rhythm. The toes of Clown shoes tapped in harmony with it. Popsy scowled and licked his lips with excitement. “Strike up the band, we got us a human to kill!” Popsy roared. Crumb pressed the button and “Stars and Stripes Forever” blared to life through the church’s PA system. The four others roared and stormed from the building in pursuit of their quarry. Blippy took aim and smashed the handle free from the mausoleum door. It wasn’t his first Chase, and the prey usually went straight to the nearest shelter. He twirled the mallet in his hand and kicked open the door with a floppy, torn shoe. Sweet rushed into the building with her weapons at the ready. The place was empty. The bronze name plates of the dead spread across the two, long side walls and the back wall was occupied almost entirely by a stained-glass window depicting the first Clown at the center and his six disciples in panes around him. Sweet crossed herself and approached the ornate tomb that sat in the center of the room. She took a deep breath and pressed against the top with her shoulder. Its heavy, stone lid scraped open slowly. She expected Al Musing to reach out for her, but nothing happened. She peeked inside and muttered an apology to the skeletal remains within the tomb. Doughy the Mime rested, as silently in death as he had been in life. Sweet turned to her brother and shrugged. “He’s not here, Blippy.” She looked around the otherwise empty room. “Guess we got it wrong this time.” “Rats!” Blip threw his hammer down with a clatter. “I just knew he’d come straight here. Where else could he be?” “Probably headed to the hedge maze. Let’s meet Waldo there,” Sweet suggested. The two tramps skulk out the front door and froze as the lights blazed before them. Circus music sounded from the VW Bug’s horn as it sped toward them, throwing a shower of dirt and grass from its spinning tires. Sweet cartwheeled out of the way, but Blippy was too slow. “Sorry to Bug you!” Al howled with a laugh. The car struck Blippy low, flipping him onto the hood. His face smacked against the windshield, streaking the glass with his greasepaint. Al smiled at him from the other side. The car smashed through the front wall, ramped off the tomb of Doughy, and launched into the air. They crashed through the massive window, showering the yard beyond in its psychedelic hail. The car landed hard. The tires exploded, the shocks collapsed, but its momentum kept the Beetle careening forward until it hit the oak tree. Al batted the air bag down and beat his shoulder against the bent door. It finally squeaked open and fell off beside the car. Al got out and popped his neck with a groan. Blippy B. Cheepskate’s eyes dangled from his skull, forced out by the impact. The rest of him just burst open like a confetti-filled balloon animal and sprayed the area in viscera. Al chuckled. “Guess that answers how many cars you can fit in a clown.” Sweet jumped over the car and slashed at Al with the cleaver. He ducked and rolled, grabbing the car door, and swinging it by the window frame to bat the diminutive nymph away. “Let me get the door for you,” Al quipped. “Hardy-fucking-har-har.” Sweet spat blood. “With jokes like that you could be a birthday clown.” “Do you think I have the chops?” “I’ll give you some chops!” Sweet lunged forward. Al held the car door up like a shield. Sweet’s cleaver cut through the thin metal with ease. Al fell backwards, flipping the tramp over him in the process. He snapped to his feet, but Sweet was up before him and climbed his body. Her stockinged legs wrapped around his neck. She locked her ankles behind his back, twisted her fingers into his mop of blond hair, and squeezed her thighs tighter. “Lucky fella, dying with your face in my cotton candy.” Sweet laughed maniacally as Al weakened and fell to his knees. Sweet dropped backwards, grabbing her own ankle to tighten the hold. Al threw ever-weakening punches at her. She drove her elbow into the top of his head like a jackhammer. Al slumped over. His fingers tapped and dragged through the grass for anything that might help. “Enough clowning around.” Sweet stretched out, reaching for her cleaver. “I’m going to cut off all your appendages in alphabetical orde—arrrrrgh!” Sweet rolled away from Al. She prodded the ragged hole in her thigh tentatively. The human choked and gagged behind her. “Fucking clowns always leave a funny taste in my mouth,” Al coughed, scouring his bloody face with the sleeve of his sweatshirt. Blood spurted between Sweet’s fingers while she worked a fuchsia tie from a pigtail to tourniquet the gaping bite mark. She seized the cleaver while she could and turned around… to find him missing. “Fuck!” Sweet panned around searching for him. She limped back to the church to regroup with Pastor Crumb in case the others failed to kill Al in the allotted time. Someone needed to be there to smash the egg. Whoever it was would become the next Whiteface… and Popsy would not be pleased. It beat the alternative. Sweet stopped in her tracks. Of course, if the human, killed them all, there’d be no one left to laugh for any of their spirits. Sweet gulped at the thought. She needed to stay in the hunt. Al groaned and rubbed a rising knot on the back of his head. The she-clown had kicked his ass. He needed to fight smarter. If he made it to midnight, they’d all leave him alone. That’s what they said anyhow. If you can’t trust a clown to keep his word, then who can you trust? He crept along the hedge row following the shouted goading of one of his hunters. He slipped through a gap in the wall and realized he was standing in a maze. “Of course, I fucking am,” he whispered. Well-spaced LED lights shone on the gravel track between the verdant walls on either side of him. They didn’t give him much light, but enough to pick out the deep grooves of cowboy boot tracks. He stayed low as much to keep his eye on the trail as to avoid detection. His sneakers gave him some advantage on the shifting rocks. As he moved through the corridors, the cowboy’s voice grew louder. Then he heard the jingle-jangle of the spurs. Al sank to his knees and crawled to the edge of another opening, peeking around cautiously. The boot heel struck him square in the forehead. Al toppled over, blinking spots from his vision. He got to his hands and knees when a kick met his ribs. “Giddy-up, fuckaroo!” Waldo howled. He watched the rodeo clown—thumbs hooked on his belt loops—dancing closer to him. The tie-dye boots shuffled through the gravel and then buried into his side again… and again. Al tried to escape. Waldo kept pace with the human, kicking him like a soccer ball as he rolled away from the deranged clown. Al felt the poke of branches in his back when he reached the wall. Another solid kick went into his gut. His microwaved dinner splattered the Clown’s boots. “You dirty sumbitch!” Waldo licked his glossy red lips. “I’m gonna line dance your fuckin’ face into pudding for that.” Waldo’s smile faded when he saw the gun barrel jabbed into his crotch. He patted the air and took two steps back. “Ever seen a clown juggle without any balls?” Al groaned and pressed himself up, keeping the gun trained on Waldo. He steadied his aim between the Clown’s eyes. “You only got the one shot, pardner.” “There’s only one of you.” Al straightened his arm and squeezed the trigger. The flag snapped out of the barrel, unfurling in an orange banner that read ‘BANG’ in purple letters. Al sputtered his lips and shook his head. Waldo slapped his thighs and whooped happily. The Clown danced in a circle, booming with laughter at the timeless gag. He turned back around and snapped his fingers, holding them at his hips like firing pistols. The miniature flagstaff rammed straight through his eye. Al swung the dummy revolver like a hammer, driving the spike through the back of Waldo’s skull. The Clown tipped over, the flag sticking out of his face fluttered lightly in the breeze. “Bang, you’re dead.” The gloved hands burst through the brush and seized Al around the throat. He battered the geometrically-patterned, yellow silk sleeves. His knuckles clanked off the oversized wristwatch. The Clown’s muscles tensed and Al’s face was pulled closer to the protruding branches. Al closed his eyes tightly, feeling the twigs clawing at his lips to get to the soft tissue beneath. “He who laughs… last!” Popsy shouted with a great guffaw. Al reached through the bush and grabbed the first thing he could. Popsy’s laughter turned to high-pitched wailing. “Let. Me. Go,” Al growled. Popsy’s white-gloved fingers sprang open and Al released him. The human strolled around the corner, popping his knuckles. Popsy rubbed his sore crotch and growled angrily. “Alright, Bozo Big-Dick. It’s just you and me,” he said. “We’re about out of time.” Popsy checked his watch. “Shit. I really wanted to enjoy killing you, but I can’t be late getting back to the church. I spent too many years in the shadow of Fennis. It’s my time to be the Whiteface.” “You killed your boss, didn’t you?” Popsy glared at him quizzically. “How’d you know?” Al shrugged. “Everyone wants to kill their boss.” “You killed Fennis?” a soft, melodic voice said from the shadow between two of the lights. “He was never going to rest until his egg was smashed. That’s why you were in such a rush to kill this human.” “You two clearly have things to discuss,” Al said, holding his hands up defensively. “I’ll show myself out.” “You’re not going anywhere.” Popsy adjusted his absurdly large tie. “Sweet, I understand you’re pissed.” Sweet hobbled forward, brandishing her cleaver. “Oh, that’s an understatement.” “If the human lives, Fennis becomes a Pierrot.” Popsy drew his weapons from his pockets. “We have to kill him first. It’s the Code.” Sweet looked at Al, then back to Popsy. She kicked the gravel with a frustrated shriek. “Two of us have a better chance, Sweet.” Popsy smiled at her. Al took his shot while the Auguste was distracted. He lunged to tackle him, only for the hammer to come down on the small of his back. Popsy drove a knee into Al’s chin. The human wrapped up Popsy’s legs. The Clown shimmied, trying to get his ridiculous shoes through Al’s grip. “Finish him, Sweet!” Popsy shouted. Sweet gripped the cleaver in both hands and raised it high as she stalked closer. “Break the egg!” Al yelled. Popsy stopped struggling. Sweet lowered her weapon slightly. “Become the Whiteface,” Al said, shuffling his feet under himself. “Stop him!” “No,” Popsy hissed. He glared at Al, then shot a glance to Sweet. Her tongue pressed against her cheek as she thought it over. If she smashed the egg, she would be the Whiteface and her and Crumb would send him to the Alley for trial. That couldn’t happen. There was only one punishment for jestericide. The thought of such horrors sent shivers up Popsy’s spine and steeled his nerve. He swung his own cleaver. Sweet’s head popped off her shoulders in a fountain of blood. She stumbled about, tripping over Al, and collapsing beside him. The stump gushed, her body twitched… and Popsy laughed malevolently. “Sweetie, you always did give the best head.” Al kicked off, pulling Popsy’s legs out from under him. He grabbed Sweet’s cleaver and swung at the Auguste, slicing the toe of his shoe off, but missing the meat inside. Popsy rolled and kicked the knife from Al’s hand before scrambling back to his feet. Al spotted Popsy’s mallet and rolled across the ground, scooping it, and coming up to his knees in a single motion. Popsy brought his cleaver down for a killing blow. Al deflected it and smashed the Clown’s ankle with the hammer. Al tried tackling him again and was successful. The mallet swung wildly. It struck Popsy’s bright red nose with a squeak that drowned out the crunch of the bone. Al laughed. It was all he could do. Laugh and swing. Hit and squeak. Over and over. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Until Popsy’s face collapsed and the mallet just made a sticky, thick smack with each repeated blow. Al finally stopped and came to his senses. He checked Popsy’s watch and headed back to the church. There was still one Clown left to kill and only four minutes to do it in. Al stepped into the Clown church and saw Pastor Crumb writhing on the floor. The top of a white head with flocks of orange hair was buried in his abdomen, munching noisily on the Pastor’s guts. The Pierrot lifted its gore-streaked face and hissed. “You must be the famous Penis the Clown everyone’s been telling me about.” Fennis stood in a hunkered, crooked mockery of normalcy. He tore at his clothing, revealing the ‘Farcemeister’ family name across his powerful chest. The Clown’s bared teeth wiggled in their sockets and fell away as fangs pushed through the gums to take their place. Smoke rose from his pores, steaming his greasepaint from his face and taking the flesh with it. Bone showed through in the original pattern of his makeup. The Clown shuddered and his chest tore open with a great blooming flower that spurted its nectar into steaming puddles on the floor. The Pierrot lunged forward. Al cocked back the mallet and took aim at the egg resting on its pedestal. He flung the weapon at it… and missed. The hammer sailed harmlessly over it and struck the massive cross behind the podium. The ornament rocked on its hangers. Fennis drew closer to Al, running with his now clawed hands tearing at the floorboards like a circus monkey. Fennis sprang into the air. The Clown seemed to fall in slow motion as Al awaited his demise. The cross crashed down on Fennis’ coffin, knocking it into the pedestal and tipping it over. The vermillion egg hit the floor a moment before Fennis landed on Al. The egg shattered, splattering the floor with its gooey, unnatural contents. Fennis exploded. The force knocked Al to the floor ahead of the tidal wave of viscera and blood that washed over him. He worked to untangle himself from a length of intestine and stood up, dripping with Clown goo. “I’ll probably laugh about this later.” He spat out a piece of flesh and shook his head. “I hate clowns.” Al limped toward the exit. He just wanted to go home—back to his shitty basement apartment with his Hot Pockets and his porn collection and he never wanted to see another fucking clown. He threw open the door of the church and groaned. Sweet was ambling toward him with her head in her hands. Blippy dragged his remains across the graveyard’s lawn. The snapping of the bang-flag blowing in the wind drew his attention to Waldo helping Popsy navigate the headstones. Al slammed the door and backed away from it. The knob started to turn. “It’s midnight,” he sobbed. “I made it. This isn’t fair.” “No.” A pair of bloody hands clutched his shoulders and Pastor Crumb leaned close to his ear with a giggle. “It’s a circus.” The door creaked open and the others shambled in. Crumb bit into Al’s cheek and the others closed in around him. Al saw their fangs and the bone showing where makeup had been. There was no one left in the shudder. No one to bring their souls to Joy anymore. Sweet threw her head at him and the damn thing latched onto his chest while Crumb dragged him to the floor. Popsy stood over him, his words came in a gurgled mess… “Laughter… never… dies.” The End

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Ep.81 – You Are What You Eat! - Prepare to Be Skinned ALIVE!

Episode Notes

Who's Hungry? Aaron is going crazy over his co-workers vegan diet, but how far will he go to prove MEAT IS WHAT MATTERS? Find out, and make sure to bring napkins...

You Are What You Eat by Rob Fields

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Transcript:

Robbie Farns walked into Mirren Automotive, the factory where he worked, about twenty miles from Strickfield. He didn’t particularly care about the place or the job itself, but at least it was steady work with a decent paycheck. He’d been working there for a couple of years now, at least as a way to pay his way through Strickfield University. As he walked through the plant to get to his work area, he knew it was going to be hot as hell. Carrying his lunch box, he knew he would soon get even more hell from one of his coworkers about what was inside. Robbie had been living the vegan lifestyle for the last few months. He had been careful to avoid eating literally anything that came from animals. That included – in addition to not eating meat – dairy, eggs, or any processed foods containing animal byproducts. Whenever he’d go out to eat, he was careful to avoid eating fried foods cooked in shared oil. He had even gone to a vegan festival in Erie City. When Robbie reached his work area, he punched in at the time clock. After putting his earplugs in, he went to his locker to change into his work shoes and prepare for his shift. It wasn’t long before he was greeted by a troublesome coworker in the form of Aaron Jameston. Aaron and Robbie were opposites in many ways. Robbie was a head taller than Aaron, also thinner. Robbie had long dark hair that went down to his shoulders and was always clean-shaven, while Aaron kept his head shaved and had a long, shaggy beard. Robbie’s skin was a clean slate, while Aaron had many tattoos. The big difference was that Aaron was a hunter who always bragged about his kills, the trophies that he kept from many of them, and all the meat that he enjoyed. Then he learned that the new guy in his department, this quiet young pup, wasn’t a meat eater – a vegan – which got his attention in more ways than one. As always, Aaron just looked at Robbie with contempt and disgust. Robbie knew and expected this every day, but he didn’t care. He’d been used to people picking on him about his vegan ways. Some of his other coworkers had asked him many questions about his veganism, mainly because they were curious. For the most part, people usually left him alone. Aaron Jameston, however, had issues with Robbie and would be anything but subtle. “What kinda rabbit food you bring today, Rabbit?” Aaron asked, taking a seat at a picnic table across from Robbie. Robbie remained calm, in spite of the nickname Aaron had hung on him. He looked up at Aaron. “What do you care?” Aaron was twice Robbie’s age and never liked when people back-talked him. There were times when he wanted to just lay into Robbie. Sure, Robbie always did his job and turned out great numbers. Just the same, he wanted to find something – anything – to justify giving Robbie a good ol’ fashioned ass whooping. As long as they both worked for Mirren Automotive, however, Aaron couldn’t physically lay a hand on Robbie, in or out of the plant. Not if he wanted to keep his job. “What, you don’t wanna tell me?” Aaron said in his always-threatening tone. Robbie sighed. “Look, we both know you really don’t care about the food I bring. So why don’t you just save it?” Aaron smiled, which Robbie knew was never a good thing. “Lemme explain somethin’ to you, Rabbit. I don’t know what you think yer doin’ with all this vegan bullshit. But here, outside Strickfield, we’re hunters. That means meat is the way we do things. We love our meat. We kill for our meat. We eat meat! Now you come in here with yer vegan bullshit and expect us to just stop eatin’ meat?” Robbie held up his hand in front of him. “Whoa! Let’s get something straight. I don’t go around telling anybody to not eat meat. There are vegans out there that would, but I personally don’t care what you eat. You eat what you want, and I’ll eat what I want. I mainly do it for health reasons, if you must know. I’ve lost weight because of it.” Aaron kept on him. “So . . . you sayin’ we’re all fat fucks ’cause we eat meat?” True, Aaron was quite portly for a little man, but Robbie wouldn’t go there. “I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth.” Aaron threw his arms up. “Why the fuck be a rabbit? Why can’t you just go bust yer ass at the gym or somethin’? Why you gotta be so fuckin’ different?” Robbie countered, “Again, what do you care? I’m not here to preach vegan. I’m here to do my job and get paid so I can keep the lights on at my place, eat, and attend college. Leave me alone, okay?” Aaron smiled more sinister now. “Yeah, yer a rabbit now.” He pointed at Robbie and shook his finger. “I seen yer kind before. Yer gonna crack. Yer gonna be back. Yer gonna eat meat again. Know why?” He leaned in a little. “’Cause that’s the way it is. Our ancestors have been huntin’ and eatin’ meat since caveman years. Meat is the way! The only way! There ain’t no room in this world for fuckin’ rabbits like you. People like you are weak. Always have been.” Just then, Robbie and Aaron were greeted by the presence of their boss. “Hey, Aaron, you causing trouble back here again?” Mike Cruz demanded. “How many times have I talked to you about that? You looking to get wrote up or what?” Aaron wasn’t even afraid to talk back to his own boss. “You already wrote me up! What more you gonna do? I’m just havin’ a conversation with Rabbit here.” “I don’t see anybody here named Rabbit,” Mike snapped. “Last time I’m telling you, quit getting in everybody’s shit! I’m sorry about what happened to your sister, but mind your own goddamn business! You wanna keep going this way, I’ll give you your final write-up. After that, I’ll have no other choice but to walk you out. That what you want? You both do good work in this department, and I don’t want to lose either one of you. But if you keep it up, Aaron, you’re gonna be out on your ass. We on the same page here?” Aaron chuckled and looked at Robbie. “Know what, Rabbit? Yer part of a dyin’ breed. I mean it. Yer dead! Know why? ’Cause we meat-eaters hunt rabbits and other plant-eaters like you. You understandin’ me, you fuckin’ weaklin’? Only the strong survive! It’s only a matter of time before you end up like all God’s creatures . . . right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy! My sister was a fuckin’ rabbit – just like you. It didn’t keep her from bein’ kidnapped and killed a few months back. And you know what?” He pointed in a random direction. “The fucker that did it is still out there – still roamin’ free! And that’s another thing! Women are in the same place as you rabbits on the food chain – nothin’ but weak, dead weight. When the killer catches up to you . . . I’m gonna laugh my fuckin’ ass off.” Mike had had enough. “You know what, Aaron? Go home! This ain’t negotiable! We don’t need your shit here. It’s obvious you still ain’t over your sister’s death. Go home and cool off. Last warning! You come back in here tomorrow and start your shit again, I won’t worry about no final write-up. I’ll just walk you out myself, and you won’t have a job here no more.” He pointed in the direction of the nearest door. “Go home! Now!” Aaron didn’t move at first. Finally, he slammed his palms on the table, making sure he got Robbie’s attention. Then he stood up, still smiling his sinister smile at Robbie. “Be seein’ you, Rabbit.” “Move!” Mike commanded him. “Fuck you, I’m goin’!” Aaron snapped. Robbie and Mike both heard Aaron yelling and cursing as he moved to the exit door and walked out of the plant. Robbie was relieved to not have to work with Aaron, at least for today. 

Robbie managed to avoid Aaron when he returned to work. He started taking his lunch box to a different break area and eating there. Mike had told Aaron not to talk to Robbie, unless it was work related. However, that didn’t keep Aaron from giving him his sinister looks. Over time, Robbie had heard around the work area about what had happened to Aaron’s sister, Susan. Aaron had never gotten along with Susan. True, Aaron was old enough to be Robbie’s father . . . and Susan’s. Aaron’s mother had taken over raising him when her husband, David, had died of a heart attack. Aaron was around ten, and he never really got over the loss of his father. After that, he looked up to his uncle, George, who was even meaner and more vicious than his dad. Still, Uncle George taught Aaron everything he knew about hunting and fishing. Then, when Aaron had reached twenty, his mother had met a man named William Sanders. Aaron didn’t think much about it at first. As far as he was concerned, William wasn’t going to be around long. All of the other men before him had left. But months went by and William was still around, committed to his mother. Aaron never saw the surprises coming when his mother made two big announcements. The first was that she and William were getting married. The second was that she was going to have William’s baby. Aaron flew into a wild rage and threatened to shoot William. As far as Aaron was concerned, he was the man of the house – end of story. Just the same, William and Rosie were married. Months later, Susan came into the world. Aaron would never come to accept this daughter as his sister and let William and Rosie know about it on no uncertain terms. As Susan grew up, Aaron would be verbally abusive towards her. Being an overbearing bully, he never had to raise his hand to her. Over time, Susan became both angry and afraid of Aaron. As long as William and Rosie were around, Susan felt some semblance of safety from Aaron. Over the last two years that Susan had lived at home, she had taken up a vegan lifestyle and refused to eat anything that Aaron had put on the table for her. Aaron became increasingly frustrated and abusive with her because of it. Susan had finally decided that she wasn’t going to tolerate Aaron anymore. During her junior year at Strickfield High School, Susan moved out and went to live with friends who shared her compassion for animals, who were also vegan. It had taken a restraining order to keep Aaron away from Susan. After Susan graduated from high school, she had gone on to Strickfield University. Aaron was around forty and had become meaner and bitter than ever. During this time, Rosie had died. William died not too long after. By then, Susan was living in a dorm room at Strickfield University. Aaron had been arrested once for breaking the restraining order during Susan’s freshman year at Strickfield University. He’d gotten drunk and confronted Susan in Wilder Hall, the student union building. Susan decided not to press charges, and he was released. The police gave him a warning about what would happen if he broke his restraining order again. Aaron had heard through the grapevine that Susan had met someone on campus and was seeing him. He didn’t know who the person was, but he was determined to find him and make  life hell for anyone who thought about hooking up with Susan. A few months later, Aaron was arrested again when it was revealed that both Susan and her boyfriend had been kidnapped. The remains of their bodies were found not too long after, with their clothes on them and the flesh and muscles stripped clean off. Aaron went into a rage when he was in jail and screamed up and down that he had nothing to do with the abductions or murders. Aaron would be released since it was proven that he didn’t abduct and kill Susan and her boyfriend, whose name he didn’t know because he never could remember it. He had been home drinking with friends, all of whom were able to vouch for him. Aaron continued to go further down the spiral, and it showed at Mirren Automotive. If it wasn’t for Mike Cruz keeping the peace, Aaron would have created quite the hostile working environment. 

A month later, Robbie had accepted some overtime at Mirren and was given an hour break to go and get some dinner. Robbie hadn’t packed extra food for the overtime period, but he knew that Rockne’s Bar and Grill across the street was a place that had vegan options and decided to go there. Robbie went in and sat at the bar. Rockne himself knew Robbie and told him of the vegan special, which was a meatloaf dinner with macaroni and cheese and a vegetable medley. Robbie felt the glare and saw that Aaron was sitting about four seats down from him. Still, he knew that old man Rockne didn’t put up with Aaron outbursts in his bar any more than Mike Cruz did at work. Aaron gave Robbie his sinister smile, but he made no move. Robbie looked back to Rockne. “Sounds good. I’m going to go use the restroom.” “Your food’ll be waiting here for you when you get back, kid,” Rockne said. Aaron watched as Robbie walked away. He watched with even greater anticipation as Rockne prepared the college rabbit’s food. He put the finished plate on the table and then put the silverware next to the plate. He finished it off by putting a glass of water down. As soon as Rockne went to the back, Aaron struck. He had a big bowl of beef gravy that he used for his plate of food. There was quite a bit of it left. He picked it up and moved over to Robbie’s plate. After making sure that Rockne was still in the back, he tilted the bowl and poured the gravy all over everything. When he finished, he went back to his seat. When Robbie returned and sat down, he immediately noticed the gravy all over his food. When Rockne came back out, Robbie made his complaint. Rockne looked at the plate. “I didn’t put any gravy on that, kid.” He groaned. “I’ll getcha a new plate.” “The fuck you will!” Aaron called out. Then he pointed at Robbie. “You just sit yer ass down there and eat that food right there.” Rockne pointed right at Aaron. “I’m putting this meal on your tab, you little son of a bitch.” Aaron ignored Rockne and got off his stool. “Well, come on, Rabbit! Sit down there and eat.” Rockne said to Robbie, “Don’t touch that food. I’ll getcha a new plate.” Aaron glared at him. “No, you will not! He’s eatin’ this one.” He glared at Robbie. “Eat that food there! Or I swear to God I’ll fuckin’ feed it to you myself.” “Since you tainted my food, I’m not touching it,” Robbie replied in defiance. Aaron’s glare turned into a sinister smile. “Fine, have it yer way.” Aaron hauled off and punched Robbie in the face with enough force to send him backward and flying over a nearby table. Aaron was quickly around to the other side. He pulled Robbie up and hauled off on him again. Before Robbie could fall, Aaron picked him up into a fireman’s carry. He took Robbie to another table and slammed him right top of it, making the table collapse. “What’s the matter, Rabbit?” Aaron taunted. “It’s vegan food, ain’t it? I just spiced it up a little for you.” He kicked Robbie in the gut. “This place used to be just for real men. Then you fuckin’ college kids came along with yer vegan shit. Now Rockne’s servin’ rabbit food here.” He kicked Robbie in the gut again. “You can’t even get a real man’s meal in here no more.” He kicked Robbie in the gut one more time. “Because of you fuckin’ rabbits!” Robbie tried to pick himself up. Aaron helped him up enough to punch him hard in the gut. “Look at you! You ain’t even a real fuckin’ man. Yer just some sissy-ass kid who can’t even fight me.” Aaron grabbed Robbie’s hair and pulled him back to the bar. Before Robbie could think, Aaron shoved his face right into the gravy-soaked food. Then he started rubbing Robbie’s face in it. “Come on, Rabbit! Come on! Eat that fuckin’ rabbit food. Doesn’t that gravy make it taste that much better? Huh? Mmmmmm . . . ! Eat as much as you want!” But the sound of the pump-action shotgun quickly forced Aaron to let go of Robbie. Rockne had pulled his shotgun out from underneath the bar and was now aiming it right at Aaron. “Let go of the kid, you little bastard!” When Aaron hesitated, Rockne screamed, “I said let him go!” Aaron finally let go of Robbie and stepped back very slowly. Rockne gave Robbie a wet towel. “Here, kid, wipe yourself off. Don’t worry, I just called the cops.” Aaron raised his hands in front of him as Rockne kept the gun on him. “Now, look here, old man . . . We wouldn’t want –” “Shut the fuck up, Aaron!” Rockne interrupted. “You’re done here! You hear me?! You’re banned for life from here. You ever step foot in my place ever again, and I’ll blow your goddamn head clean off. And you know I mean just what I’m saying! And don’t think I ain’t collecting what you owe me for wrecking my place.” Then Aaron heard another voice. “Hey, Aaron! You ever step foot in Mirren Automotive ever again, and I’ll have security walk your ass out.” Aaron quickly spun around and saw Mike Cruz standing there. He pointed right at Mike. “Bullshit! You didn’t see nothin’!” “I saw enough,” Mike said. “You’re fired! You hear me? Fired! Don’t even bother coming back to work. I’ll be in on Saturday. You can come back in and get your shit then.” Mike came over to Robbie. “You okay, kid?” Robbie nodded. “I’ll be all right?” “I got the police coming,” Rockne told Aaron. “I’m pressing charges on you. You’re paying for all the damage you caused here – and that ruined plate.” Aaron pointed right at Rockne. “Fuck you, old man! You ain’t gettin’ one goddamn dime outta me.” He pointed at Robbie now. “This ain’t over between you and me, Rabbit! Yer permanently on my fuckin’ shitlist!” When Rockne raised the shotgun to Aaron again, Aaron shouted curses as he turned and stormed out of the bar. 

Around 3:00am, Aaron sat in his pickup truck and eyed the Mirren Automotive east parking lot. Aaron took another swig out of the bottle of whiskey he’d brought with him and felt the alcohol mix really good with his anger. He caressed the double-barreled shotgun that he had sitting in the passenger’s side. “Yeah, you think I can’t think, huh, Rabbit?” Aaron muttered. “Maybe I never knew yer fuckin’ name, but I know where you leave here from. I know what car you drive. I’ll fuckin’ kill yer rabbit ass before you make it back to that panty-waste college of yers.” He took another swig, then shouted, “Vegan, my ass!” He didn’t have to wait that much longer. Eventually, he saw a small group of people coming out of the plant. He raised his binoculars and saw that Robbie was among them. He grinned with anticipation. “Ooooh, yeah! I’ll get you easy, boy. I’ll run you right offa the goddamn road. Then I’m gonna go on a little rabbit hunt.” As Aaron reached over to caress his shotgun again, he suddenly realized that it was no longer there. “What the fuck?!” Suddenly, he felt the double barrels being pressed right up against the left side of his neck. Aaron turned his head to see who managed to sneak his shotgun out of the open passenger’s side window and brought it over to his side. His eyes went wide when he recognized the face. “You?!” Aaron choked out. “Can’t be . . . ! Yer – !” Aaron didn’t have time to finish. The person quickly raised a pistol and fired it. Aaron gasped when he felt the dart hit his chest. He blacked out seconds later. 

Aaron opened his eyes and groaned. “What the fuck . . . ?” he mumbled. Aaron sniffed and recognized that all-too-familiar scent of smoked meat. When he managed to overcome more of the tranquilizer, he realized that he was tied up and elevated in some backyard somewhere. He looked and saw somebody was roasting a big slab of meat over an open fire. “What the fuck?!” he repeated. The person turned around. Then he moved over to Aaron. In the dim light, Aaron could see Robbie now. “Oh, hey! Glad to see you’re awake, Aaron. Guess that was some pretty good tranq, huh?” Aaron glared down at Robbie and demanded, “What the fuck you think yer doin’, Rabbit?!” Robbie laughed. “Why . . . just watching you hang around. Literally! Pretty soon, you’re going into that little building right behind you. Since you can’t see it, it’s a smokehouse. Oh, and you’re going to be getting smoked to perfection. Once you’re skinned, that is . . .” Aaron screamed with rage and tried to squirm free. Robbie wasn’t in the least bit intimidated. When Aaron couldn’t fight anymore, he glared at Robbie again. “Lemme go, God damn you!” Robbie laughed. “Congratulations, asshole! You were right about me. Me being a vegan  won’t last. Okay, when we first met, I was eating vegan. Not because I wanted to, mind you. But the real truth is . . . you were the one I was hunting. See, I’m a hunter, too. Except I don’t just hunt deer and other wild animals. I also hunt for people that might make some great, tasty meat. And, yes, you were definitely right about meat being the way. Believe me, you were so right. And you are going to make some great eating once you’re all finished smoking.” Aaron growled. “When I get my fuckin’ hands on you, you son of a bitch . . . !” “Good luck with that,” Robbie said. “You might want to look down at your legs, though.” Aaron looked down to see that he not only had no pants on . . . he no longer had his lower legs!! Only stumps where they once were. “Holy motherfuckin’ shit! Oh, my fuckin’ god! Jesus fuckin’ – !” “Oh, for fuck’s sake, would you please – for once in yer life – just shut the fuck up?” a female voice familiar to Aaron called out from the back door. Aaron looked to see the girl who came and stood next to Robbie. “I did see you outside the factory . . . Susan! But . . . but . . .  yer dead!” Robbie wrapped an arm around Susan’s waist. Then the two of them shared a kiss before they looked at Aaron again. “Our plan worked, lover,” Susan said. “Yes, it did,” Robbie agreed. “Goin’ to college was the best thing ever happened to me,” Susan explained to Aaron. “You see, when I met Robbie, he was such a sensitive guy. Yeah, he done has his problems, such as all the meat he eats, but he’s still all sweet on me. I mean, I literally fell in love with him at first sight.” Robbie smiled. “I used to think girls were trouble, especially the ones who lived out here in the country. Then I met your sister here – a country girl – while I was at the university. Boy, did she ever catch me off guard. Now, I don’t know how I ever lived without her. Anyway, when she told me about what an insufferable prick you were to her and how she had so many sleepless nights because of you . . .” He sighed. “I flat-out suggested just killing you.” Susan was angry now. “And, believe me, you don’t know how many times I wanted to blow yer fuckin’ head off while you was sleepin’. Robbie done showed me that killin’ you will be so easy. We’ll even benefit from you, too. Surprise! I ain’t vegan no more. Turns out I love eatin’ meat.” She giggled a little. “Human meat!” Susan picked up a knife and carved off a small piece of the meat from the roast. She turned back to Aaron. “This here’s one of yer legs over this here fire.” Aaron was horrified to see Susan put the cut meat into her mouth and eat it. She turned to Robbie. “Mmmm . . . smoked to perfection,  baby.” Robbie smiled at Aaron. “For the record, I did go vegan for the last few months. See, Susan made a little bet with me. She said I couldn’t be vegan for two whole months, so I agreed to try it. She in turn agreed to try eating human meat. If I made it two months, which I did – today, she would go back to eating meat on the full-time basis.” He turned to her. “Don’t worry, hon, I won’t hold you to it. If you want to be vegan, it’s fine by me.” They shared another kiss. Then Susan said, “Vegan food is mighty good, but I’ll consider eatin’ human steaks. As long as it don’t bother you that I still wanna eat vegan.” Robbie shook his head. “No, we can eat vegan food. You were right, it’s actually not bad. I’d say we found our happy medium, you and me.” They kissed one more time. Again, Aaron struggled to free himself. He roared and thrashed with all his might. Finally, he realized it was useless and gave up. “You were dead, Susan!” Aaron protested. “You and yer college boyfriend both.” “You saw two bodies we done carved up,” Susan corrected him. “Robbie and I put our clothes on them bodies. The police never even thought to do any kinda forensics to see if they was really us or not. We’re both legally dead. My new name is Megan Farns now. We got married shortly after we decided we was gonna kill you.” “Speaking of killing you, Aaron,” Robbie said, “we’re going to strip the flesh off you. Then we’ll put you in the smokehouse and smoke you to perfection, just like we did your legs. Susan wanted to keep you alive long enough so she could see you before we do what needs to be done.” “I know I’ll savor every bite of you until yer all gone,” Megan murmured. “Still think I’m a rabbit now, you short little fat fucker?” Robbie teased. “This is bullshit!” Aaron cried. “Bullshit!” “Puttin’ up with you all them years of my life was bullshit,” Megan snapped. “Now I’ll sleep peacefully, and with my wonderful man.” She glanced at Robbie. “I’m done talkin’ to this shitheel now. Thank you for this opportunity, honey. I love you.” “I love you, too, babe. Here, I’ll give you the honors,” Robbie said, handing her a buck knife. Megan stepped up onto a sturdy metal ladder to look at Aaron one last time. “This is for my life of hell, you fuckin’ Neanderthal!” Aaron screamed as Megan stabbed him hard in his stomach. His blood was spurting out quickly. He groaned, intent on not giving up on his life. Megan knew this and drew back again for another hard stab. Aaron Johnston knew that the second stab would be . . . THE END!!

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Ep.80 – Dead and Breakfast - Behind the Snowy Blizzard There's a MANIAC!

Episode Notes

A group of teens get stranded by a severe blizzard, luckily they've landed on the doorstep of a humble Bed and Breakfast where they can get warm for the night... But something else is lurking in the white snow and it's dangerous.

Dead and Breakfast by Morgan Moore

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Transcript:

The screams of a young woman pierced the night as the source of the din exploded from the backdoor of her home… letting loose another screech in her wake.

Her screaming didn’t last long as the cold night air cut off her wind, forcing her to stop to catch her breath.

She was enjoying a night to herself while her mother babysat for her… but the peace she was hoping to get was shattered when a stranger knocked on her door.

When she opened it, the man rushed her and chased her into the living room… a bottle to the head lead to her escape.

And here she was, taking a break to regain her composure.

She was freezing, but there was no way she was going back into her house. A neighbor… any neighbor would have to do.

The young woman started to walk towards a distant gate when the man shoved his foot into the small of her back.

With no time to react, he flipped her over, sitting knees first on her stomach.

Stunned by the blow she looked up at him, as the ice pick… recently pilfered from her home… entered and exited her heart repeatedly.

When he was finished the man stood up and slid the ice pick into the pocket of his jacket before walking off into the cold, bitter night.

. . . . .

“I think it’s stuck Matt.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed Rachel.” Matt replied sarcastically.

Rachel, Matt, and their friends Danni and Jack had been trying to get in one last camping trip before the weather turned bitter… but a blizzard appeared out of nowhere mid-week, so the quartet had packed up and hit the highway.

The blizzard in full swing, the group took the recommended detours and ended up in a town called Oldsville… or more accurately on the front lawn of a house they almost hit as they skidded off the road thanks to the ice surrounding Oldsville.

“So now what do we do?” Danni asked as she held her arms against her body for extra warmth.

“There’s no way we’re gonna get any help out here tonight.” Jack remarked.

“Well we have to do something or else we’ll freeze.“ Matt interjected.

Rachel looked around the area. He was right she thought; they’d freeze to death if they stayed out here.

Rachel looked around the neighborhood, and noticed that the lights were off in every house except for the one they were stuck in front of. “Hey guys, it looks like the people who live here might still be up. Why don’t try asking them for help?” she suggested to her friends.

The other three looked at each other and shrugged.

“I’m game… as long as they have heat.” Danni said.

“And a warm bed to go with it.” Jack added, grabbing Danni by the waist and bringing her into a kiss.

“Don’t get too lovey-dovey, you might get stuck together, and not in a fun way.” Matt said as he hauled out everybody’s bags from the car.

The four trudged up to the house and banged on the door all at once.

Almost immediately the door swung open. A middle aged woman stood between them and the interior.

“Yes?” she asked, slightly annoyed.

“Hi. We’re sorry to bother you. But we slid off the road and uh, into your yard…” Matt started gesturing to the car. “...anyways it’s stuck now. Is there any way you could let us spend the night?” he finished before giving the woman a warm smile, the others following suit.

The woman looked at the group and shrugged a bit. “Well, I guess we’d be a really terrible bed and breakfast if I didn’t let you sleep here. Come on in.”

She ushered them inside.

“A bed and breakfast? I guess we lucked out big time. I didn’t see a sign out in the yard though.” Rachel remarked as she and her friends stripped off their winter gear.

“It’s more than likely covered by all the snow.” The caretaker explained.

She lead the group to the kitchen and after a few minutes handed them each a hot cup of tea.

The foursome downed their beverages eagerly which elicited a chuckle from the caretaker.

“Are there any other guests staying here?” Danni asked.

“Nope. You kids are probably the only ones we’ll have until the weather blows over.”

“How much do we owe you?” Jack asked.

“Don’t worry about it tonight. We can hash that out in the morning… no point in handling the business side of this now when you may end up staying longer.”

The group looked at each other sheepishly.

“Sounds like a plan then.” Matt said, breaking the awkward silence. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired. Would you excuse us ma’am?”

“Not at all. The rooms are upstairs for guests, pick whatever ones you want. My room is down here if you kids need anything.” She explained, giving them a smile.

. . . . .

The stranger trudged through the harsh winter conditions. He did not know where he was going… he was only moving because he felt the urge to do so.

He would need shelter soon.

As if reading his mind the snow let up some… the lights of the nearby house beckoning him.

. . . . .

Rachel walked into the room she and Matt had claimed, buttoning up a pajama shirt as she did so. Matt sat on the bed looking at his phone.

“Anything interesting?” Rachel asked.

“I was checking the weather. Looks like the snow is definitely not stopping until late tomorrow night.”

“I guess that means we will be staying here for a bit.” Rachel said, blowing a strand of hair from her face.

“Looks like it.” Matt said sternly.

. . . . .

The stranger pried open the backdoor of the dwelling and slipped inside.

Finding himself in a kitchen, he sat down at a table and pulled off his coat.

He removed an ice-pick from his pocket, laid it upon the table and sighed at the sight of the instrument before him.

. . . . .

Danni collapsed onto Jack and smiled before rolling off of him. The two lovers lied next to each other, sweat covering them.

“I’m gonna take a shower while there’s still hot water.” Danni said, exiting the room.

Jack dozed off seconds later, only to come to in pitch blackness.

He stumbled to his feet in search of his phone, and the light it would provide.

The stranger rushed at Jack and pinned him against the wall.

Jack’s assailant slid a gloved hand over his victim’s mouth tightly.

The blows came fast, tearing his flesh savagely again and again! The stranger let Jack’s body collapse to the floor before heading to the bathroom and the sound of running water…

. . . . .

Matt and Rachel rushed into the bathroom as Danni’s screams rang out repeatedly.

Now here they were, face to face with a psychopath.

“Run!” Matt screamed as the stranger bolted towards them.

The duo rushed down the stairs, nearly falling over one another as the stranger pursued them.

Their eyes went to the front door, widening in joy that they would be free of this nightmare.

The stranger tackled Matt.

Rachel screamed.

Matt turned his head to look at her as the stranger slit his throat.

The killer stood up and turned to face Rachel.

She bolted and dove out window in the far side of the room and ran pell-mell into the cold night.

. . . . .

The frigid air assaulted her lungs and skin.

Rachel pressed on, desperately searching for signs of life in any of the neighboring houses.

Minutes passed and she was ready to give up when a light appeared from a distant home.

She stumbled forth, up the stairs, and beat on the door until her knuckles bled.

The door opened a crack and a middle aged woman peered forth from the slight opening.

“Please… please help me!”

The woman looked at Rachel, stunned. She gathered her wits and spoke.

“What’s the matter?”

“Somebody is chasing me! He killed my friends!”

The woman ushered Rachel inside and bolted the door.

. . . . .

“Honey I’m home.” A voice called out.

“That’s my husband. Let me go tell him what happened to you.” the woman said as she left the room, wringing her hands.

Rachel listened to the sound of a clock ticking away in the kitchen.

The gentle “tick-tock” droned on and on as Rachel’s eyelids grew heavier and heavier

. . . . .

Rachel started awake as footsteps approached.

In the doorway stood the stranger, ice-pick in hand.

His lips split into a gruesome smile.

Rachel’s bloodcurdling scream rung through the neighborhood and across the cold Winter’s night.

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

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Ep.79 – Torture and Other Job Skills - Being Out of Work Can be KILLER

Episode Notes

Being out of work sucks, especially when that's how you value yourself. But what if you have another calling, a deeper calling... a DARKER calling...

Torture and Other Job Skills by Killian Crane

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Transcript:

Have you ever been laid off? I had my dream job in management. Good benefits, great pay. Small company, room to grow. Every day at work was a genuine pleasure. Most people say that to kiss their boss’s ass. But not me. I loved my job. When Debra left me, the job was all I had. I poured my soul into it. Those under me, they didn’t understand. They whispered behind my back, called me, “pushy, tight ass... nut job.” Some of them even called HR on me. They couldn’t understand. I demand nothing but the best from my team. Do your job to the best of your ability and we’ll have no problem. Do sloppy work, and I will make sure you face the consequences. And as for all the whispers behind my back, what they failed to realize was that my methods worked. I was by far the best manager at my job. Punctual, organized, efficient. Those under me knew my expectations. You see, people are like coal. If you put enough heat and pressure on coal, it becomes a diamond. Diamonds are the standard we should all strive to achieve. One thing I cannot stand is failure. I punished those that failed me. There are far too many weaklings in the workforce. The answer of course isn’t to fire them on the spot, that’s a waste of coal. But punishment, that’s the answer. More heat, more pressure. There’s a diamond in there somewhere. I was the best at making diamonds... until this fucking COVID-19 virus. I will never forget the day my boss Ryan called me into his office. The first words out of his mouth were, “I’m sorry I have to do this.” He was flat, formal, and precise. I sank into my chair. He said some more things about the virus, uncertain times, cutbacks in every department. Across the board, he said... I didn’t listen to all that. I was too busy looking into his eyes. They said everything I needed to hear. He wasn’t sorry, not at all. He wanted me gone. I couldn’t help but cry. It was unsightly and unprofessional, but the job was my everything, my only thing. And he took it from me. He leaned back in his chair and sighed. “It came from corporate. Nothing I can do.” Years of service, up in smoke. As COVID made a killing, so did delivery services. I had everything delivered to my apartment; food, basic supplies, alcohol. Not that I was afraid of the virus, I just... didn’t have the strength to go outside. I was a failure. Me, the best employee in my division, possibly in the entire company... had been laid off. Let go. I knew it had nothing to do with the virus. That was just an excuse for the higher ups to trim the fat. I never thought of myself as fat before then. Fat was something gross to be discarded. I hated myself, but more, I hated everything else. I started the search for a new job immediately. I updated my already outstanding resume, surfed the appropriate websites. Someone would have me. My bed became my new office as I searched. My laptop lay to my right, next to the television remote, the pretzels, the two liters, the whiskey, the box wine... I used the same cup for everything. Saved time during the search. Every time I went to the door for a delivery, I had to kick the daily paper out of the way. Despite the pandemic, the paper never stopped coming. Over time, they became a pile next to the door. They had their own ozone, their smell of ink and paper so much more pleasant than the rest of the place. It was funny. The world shut down, but not the mail. Should have been a mailman, I thought. Definite job security. Of course, there were no mail jobs available. There were almost no jobs available. And the ones that were disappeared fast. The market was more dog eat dog than ever. I’d send in my resume and check back the next day to find the position no longer available. And I hadn’t gotten a call. Their loss, I thought... but then more and more listings disappeared. Blinking out like stars in the night sky. When the check from the government came in, that was the worst. I’m sure it thrilled some people to receive one, but not me. I felt like a leech. More than anything, I wanted to work. To earn my way. But the night sky had grown dark, and so had my apartment. In the darkness, I fantasized about hurting Ryan. A lot. I wished it was just me and him and a fucking pipe wrench... Those weeks were hard on my ex, Debra. She called me often. I remember standing in my bathrobe at the window talking to her. The view was nothing spectacular, but it was nice to stand in the sun and listen to her voice. Too bad I couldn’t see her in person; she’d caught the damn virus. “I’m worried about you,” she said weakly between wheezes. I held my phone in the crook of my neck, checking my robe for smells. I’d flipped it inside out a few times in the past week. It itched, but I had a fix for that. A sort of numb-all recipe I’d perfected. “Me?” I asked on my way to concoct the recipe. I accidentally stepped in a puddle. Liquid seeped through my sock and in between my toes, “Don’t worry about me. Hey, this might cheer you up. I found out today they shut down my entire department. Even Ryan, the asshat that fired me, lost his job. And I think he has COVID!” “You shouldn’t laugh at that,” she said, “COVID’s no joke. I’m not liking it so far.” “Well, I hope it fucking kills him. Hang on, let me put you on speaker.” I put the phone down on the table. It was tough to find free space, so I knocked a takeout container to the floor. Globs of congealed rice spilled onto the hardwood. “I know you loved your job, but you shouldn’t say things like that.” My old job... it was why she left me to begin with. Late work hours, dates cancelled, time missed and all that. As she droned on about what the fuck ever, I poured myself the perfect numb-all. Three fingers of red wine, two fingers of bottom shelf whiskey. Pour over ice and slosh until mixed. Only one more ingredient... “No, I’m not,” I said, holding a little orange bottle. I wasn’t sure if that was the right response or not. Based on her silence, it wasn’t. Debra had left the bottle here at our- my apartment after a surgery on her knee. My supply of the last ingredient was low. The pills rattled as I popped the top and fished one out. Debra snorted. “You’re being strange today.” “Eh.” “Is there any way I could maybe see you, you know, after I get better? I’m just… tired of being cooped up.” I put the pill on my tongue and washed it down with a sip of my drink. Numb all coming right up. “We’ll have to see. I’m just so… busy these days.” “Busy?” “Yeah, sorry… can’t... can’t talk right now, I’m at work.” She went silent for a while before finally saying something terrible. “Take care of yourself, okay?” “Hey,” I said, ice clinking as I downed the rest of my drink, “who’s my pretty girl?” I licked my lips and tasted the world slowing down. Debra had a tattoo on the small of her back, a purple butterfly. Thinking about it made me the numb-all version of hard. “Stop,” she said, “you know it’s not like that anymore.” “Come on,” I slurred, touching myself. I tried to hide the slur, but that hadn’t been my first drink of the day. Or my first pill. “Who’s my pretty girl? Smile for me.” “Call me sometime, will you?” Fucking bitch, I thought before hanging up. Oh, how I wanted to fuck her brains out, and maybe more. If only... Oh well, I thought, eyes bobbing listlessly upon the fucking wreck that was my apartment. Before, I kept things spotless and sanitary. I did my laundry the second the hamper filled up, wash, dry, fold, iron, put away. Now there were dirty clothes on every piece of furniture, empty bottles and containers on every flat surface. The floor was a minefield of trash and puddles. The smell of household cleaners and soap was gone, replaced by something... sad. The only agreeable smell came from the pile of papers near the front door. It’s ozone of pressed ink smelled so nice… I blacked out then, not sure for how long. I woke lying on the ground in a half-dried puddle of piss, my head nestled against the help wanted section. And then it came to me… The help wanted section! Why hadn’t I thought of it before? How stupid had I been? Of course, all the job positions would be online, but what if…? I tore into the pile. That ozone of ink and paper stained my fingers as I flipped and tore and read. Loose sheets crumpled and flew away. I didn’t care about the news; everyone knew the world was going to hell already. I devoured the job ads, holding them in the light pouring through the window. And I was right! Every single paper had the same offer! Every single one of them! “Management position. Job is challenging and a test of dedication and skill. Nothing but excellence will be accepted.” I danced with joy, kicking trash and splashing in puddles as I spun around and around. I tripped over my couch and busted my lip on the armrest, but stood with not a care in the world! The answer had been in front of me all along! Everyone had missed it because no one reads the paper anymore! There wasn’t a phone number to call, only an address. I had no time to shower. Some other desperate fuck might find the ad too. I laughed at his misfortune. “Sorry, pal,” I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I’m gonna beat you to it!” I tried calling Debra. She didn’t answer. I found that she’d called me in my blacked-out state, but… I’d call her later, after I gave her the good news. Because things were about to change. I would get that job. I would. I peeled my wet underwear off, splashed water on my pits and junk. Put on deodorant, scrounged around and put on my cleanest work clothes. Slapped a mask over my face. I felt the blood of my busted lip leaking onto it. I grabbed another mask off the floor so I could change them when I got to the interview and filled my flask; four fingers of whiskey, topped to the brim with red wine. I mixed them together and took one good pull of liquid courage to calm my thudding heart. I pocketed the flask, my phone, wallet and keys. One good slap to the face, and I was on my way. I barely remember the bus ride there. I worked through what I needed to say at the interview… but I was nervous. Like my first date with Debra, only worse. This was my chance out of the hole. My only chance. I lowered my mask and took another pull. The bus came to a halt at my stop. I paid as I got off and was stunned by what I saw. The building was beautiful; a perfect square of black glass, like an onyx finger pointing accusingly at the sky above. I smelled the threat of rain through my mask. A good rain was just what the world needed. The filth could drown in it… but not before I got inside. I hurried across the street as thunder echoed in the distance. I stopped shy of the door, checking my dark reflection. I fixed my tie, checked my mask. Yep, there was blood. I threw it out, licked until there was no more red, and put a new mask on. But not before another pull of liquid courage. The whiskey wine burned my busted lip, as well as a fresh pain I hadn’t noticed before. In my fall, I’d apparently knocked one of my teeth loose. I wished I’d brought a pill or two… and then I remembered something else I should have brought. My resume! I’d come empty-handed! Lightning arced in the sky. Too late. I couldn’t go back... The flask loosened my nerves. The pain in my tooth made me sharp. It was time to prove I wasn’t fat to be discarded. I was excellence. I was perfection. I walked to the door like I owned the place and hit the buzzer. The sun was low in the sky. I thought maybe I was too late, but someone buzzed me in. The place was dark. No receptionist, no activity. An open elevator cab was the only source of light in the place. I stepped in and knew that something was wrong. This building was immense… but there were only two buttons. No floor numbers, just an up and a down. The boss had to be upstairs. Downstairs was probably to a parking garage or something. I pressed up. I worked my loose tooth with my tongue as I ascended. The wait was agonizing. When I thought it would never end, the doors opened. To either side were empty offices… but straight ahead I saw a man in a massive office standing behind a desk. He stared down at the world through a great window. Someone must have buzzed me in, and I hadn’t seen another soul in the entire damned place. I tread towards his office, scared for reasons I didn’t understand at the time. Even from behind, this man exuded power. He spoke without turning. “Come in.” His voice was velvet ice. I couldn’t help but follow his command. I stepped into his office like I’d stepped on a puppy dog. He turned with a smile. His hair was neat, blonde, slicked back on his head. His face was clean-shaved. I realized with broiling anxiety I hadn’t shaved before I left. I reached to shake his hand. “Hello, I’m- “ “I know who you are,” he said, gesturing to a chair, “Sit.” My stomach turned. “You know who I am?” I did as he command and sat down. Though I was scared, I couldn’t help but admire him. He was beautiful. And terrible. All my preparations flew out of the window, if I’d had any to begin with. I sat, crossing my legs and then uncrossing them. I didn’t want to seem disrespectful. He walked to a small cabinet. “Drink?” A test. He wanted to see how professional I was. He poured himself two fingers of scotch. It was my chance to impress him. I pulled my flask from my pocket. “Thank you, but I brought my own.” He laughed a practiced, unreadable laugh. Maybe I’d passed his test, maybe I’d failed spectacularly. I noticed there was no name placard at his desk. I didn’t know what to call him. “What do I call you, sir?” His coal eyes went to my mask. “You don’t have to wear that around me.” I took it off, noticing this mask was also soaked with blood. It was odd he’d said nothing about it. I began to spiral. Whatever this was, it was feeling less and less like an interview. I recognized the look in his eyes. It was the one I gave my employees when I had them right where I wanted them. At my old job, I constantly tested those under me, prodded them like a shepherd, herded them in the direction I wanted them to go. Now I was being herded. But towards what? “So, sir... what are your expectations?” He took a sip of his bourbon. I took a sip from my flask. It helped to even me out. Nervously, I pressed on my loose tooth, grimacing at the pain. The man studied me with that look. “I expect excellence. Nothing more, nothing less. And I think you have what it takes.” “You do?” “Yes. I think you have all the qualifications.” At this point, I was at a crossroads. I wanted this job, even though I didn’t really know what it was. But everything in me told me to run, so I tried to take an out. I pretended to pat myself down, looking for something. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I forgot my resume at home, on my desk.” The man smiled. He saw what I was trying to do. “You don’t need it. You see, I’ve been waiting for you.” The urge to down the rest of my flask was strong. I tried to hide the tremble in my hand but couldn’t. Taking this interview had been a mistake. But… I was compelled. And desperate. He knew that. “Waiting for me?” “Yes. You finally saw my ad in the paper.” The room spun. I thought for sure I had lost my mind. “It’s a shame,” he said, “no one reads the paper anymore.” I stopped fighting the urge to down my flask and just did it. It poured over my loose tooth, and the world stopped spinning. The man finished his drink as well. “Are you ready to begin the interview?” I could barely control my breathing. “This… isn’t it?” “No. The interview is downstairs. Come.” He stood and walked out of the office. I hurried to my feet and followed. We got in the elevator cab, and he pressed the down button. We went down… and down… and down… and down. Far longer than it took me to go up. It got hot. Maybe actual heat, maybe my nerves. Questions buzzed in my head. I realized I never even asked what the position was for, yet here I was in a box descending the depths with this stranger. “So... what do you do here? The ad was vague.” “It’s best if you see for yourself.” The elevator didn’t open to a parking garage like I thought it would. It opened on a pristine hallway lit by fluorescent lights. At the end was a large metal door. The man walked ahead. He looked over his shoulders and called to me. “Here, boy.” He clicked his tongue, and I was out of the elevator. As we walked, he pulled a keycard from his inner suit pocket. He waved it in front of a reader, and the door popped open with a hiss. Beyond was pure darkness. Someone was in there, crying. The man smiled at me. “Are you ready to begin the interview?” He stepped inside, and fluorescent lights illuminated the room. Ryan, my old boss, rested on his knees sobbing. His arms were clasped in chains that hung from the ceiling. Every part of me screamed to run, but I stepped inside anyway. Ryan looked up at me. There was recognition in his face. “Thank God, it’s you! You have to help me!” On a rolling table next to him lay a red pipe wrench. I couldn’t believe what I saw. “What... what is this?” The man held his chin in one hand, studying me. “This is what you wanted, isn’t it?” “How did you know?” He gestured at the wrench. “This is the job. This is what you will be doing.” He gave me a wink. “Show me excellence.” My heart thundered in my chest as I approached. Ryan forced a smile on his face. “Hey man, it’s good to see you! Jesus Christ, help me! I’ve been in here for days now!” I lifted the wrench in my hand. The weight felt good. Really good. Ryan shook his head. “What are you doing?” I pressed so hard on my loose tooth it popped out of its socket. I grinned at Ryan, blood seeping out of my mouth as I spit my tooth out. It jangled on the floor like an ivory marble. “I’m sorry I have to do this.” I was flat, formal... precise. “No,” he cried, eyes bulging like a pig at the slaughterhouse, “please! No- “ I swung. Hard. The wrench sank into his temple. His eye popped from its socket. He sputtered a bit, then went limp in his chains. I grabbed him by the hair, hauling him up. “No,” I said, “he can’t die. He can’t fucking die!” The man grabbed my shoulder, surprising me. “Why can’t he die?” “Because... I want more!” The man’s eyes went from twin black coals to shimmering diamonds. He touched Ryan on the ear, and he came back to life screaming. “It hurts!” The little piggie squealed, “oh God, it hurts!” I hauled his face to mine. “No God! Not here! I’m your god now!” I pulled the dangling eye from his head and popped it in my mouth. I tasted his sorrow as I chewed. “It came from corporate,” I shouted over his screams, “nothing I can do!” We played with Ryan for a very long time. I struck him, and the man brought him back. All that anger and fantasy released with unholy zeal. Goddammit I was in heaven. I fell to my ass, heaving. Ryan hung from his chains in an unrecognizable slump. His ozone was salty but sweet. Tears stung my face. “Thank you,” I told the beautiful man, “Did... did I do good?” He nodded. I smiled and wiped the tears away. “Does that mean I got the job?” “Not quite. There’s one more test.” He snapped. The lights went out, and Ryan’s ozone disappeared with them. The man snapped again, and the lights came back on. When my eyes adjusted to the sudden illumination, my heart stopped. Where Ryan was once shackled sat Debra, bound by chains dangling from the ceiling. She screeched, trying to stand but was unable. “What- what-“ she stammered, too shocked to speak. The man put his hand on her shoulder. His eyes were black coals that sucked her in. “Relax, my dear,” he cooed, stroking her cheek, “take a deep breath.” She calmed at his touch. “Where am I?” “You’re home, where you belong.” “No, I’m not. I was in my apartment, on my couch. How did I get here?” “You’d be surprised what lands you here.” “Where the hell is here?” The man pointed at me. “Isn’t it obvious?” She fell silent as she looked me up and down. I looked down at myself. Ryan’s blood still soaked my everything. The man ran his fingers through her hair. She shrank from his touch. “I want to go home now.” The man laughed. “I told you, you are home. This is where people like you go.” “People like me?” “People that deserve to be punished.” She winced at me as I stood, wrench in hand. I found the man staring at me. His gaze was piercing, but I found the words. “Do... do I have to?” The man’s eyes glowed like diamonds. “Do you want this job?” I remembered being in my apartment, dirty and all alone. All Debra had left me with was a broken heart and a little orange bottle of pain pills. I’d never admit it, but sometimes I would fantasize about fucking her, hurting her, sometimes both. But I never dreamed I would have the chance. Now, I wasn’t so sure. It didn’t feel right. The man backed away as I approached. Her eyes pleaded for help. I remembered all the good things. Cuddling with her as we watched television, walks to the park on late nights, drunken cab rides home. Thinking about those things, I almost wanted to set her free. “I tried calling you,” she said. “I know. I was going to call you back.” “I was in so much pain. And then I blacked out.” I cradled her face in my hand. She flinched from me as Ryan’s blood stained her jaw line. “Good news,” I said, “I’m having an interview! I think I’m doing really well, too.” Her lip trembled. “Get me out of here. Please.” Our time together had been sweet. And I was mostly to blame for why things fell apart. But... I needed this job. She looked confused. “What are you waiting for? Let me go!” I felt something in my heart rot as I fondled the edge of her chin. “Who’s my pretty girl?” Tears ran down her face and over my hand. “Please,” she begged, “let me go.” I gripped her face tight, scrunching her lips together. “Who’s my pretty girl?” Her mouth worked like a fish out of water. “I... I am. Just please- “ “I thought things weren’t like that anymore.” “They are! I swear to God- “ “No God! Not here! Only me! I’m your god now!” She burst into sobs. I almost felt bad, but I just had to rub it in. “Still feeling sorry for me?” She whined as she looked away. I choked her, forcing her to look at me. Heat and pressure... I would have my diamond. As her face changed colors, I let go. She collapsed, coughing. “What do you want?” She screamed. “I want you to smile.” “What?” “Smile for me.” “Please... don’t do this.” “Smile for me, pretty girl.” She looked me in the eye, still crying. A forced, agonized smile split across her face. I gripped my wrench tight. I remembered how pretty her smile was. Those candid moments at a restaurant, in bed after a date, in the morning over breakfast. Those thoughts drowned as I remembered all the things she said to me when she left... She mewed like a bad little kitten. “Things- things can go back to how they were. Would you like that?” I grinned back at her. “Sorry. Can’t talk right now. I’m at work.” Her smile evaporated into a shriek, and my wrench found her teeth. We played for a very, very long time. When I finished punishing her, I collapsed in a heap and passed out. I woke up in my apartment, head resting against the mostly shredded pile of newspapers. Lying next to me was a sheet of paper. Only... it wasn’t a sheet of paper. It felt wrong under my fingers. Too soft to be paper, and too thick. I instantly dropped it to the ground when I realized it was human skin. It suctioned to the floor. The flowery script stared up at me. I peered down and saw that it was a contract. A job offer. I’d done it! I was a contributing member of society again! I found a knife and pricked my thumb. It burned as I pressed on the dotted line, right next to a very familiar purple butterfly. Have you ever been laid off? I thought I had my dream job. Good benefits, great pay. The company was small, family oriented. I genuinely enjoyed coming to work every single day. Most people just say that to appease the boss. Now, I’m the boss. Now, I have my dream job. My nightmare job. Every day I’m at work, I feel myself changing. When I look in the mirror, I see my eyes are now as black as coal. Maybe one day you’ll get let go from your “dream job.” You’ll find yourself numb and alone and lost. Maybe you’ll see a special ad only found in the paper. After all, no one reads the paper anymore. That ad will lead you to a tall building made of black glass. Come on in. We’re always hiring.

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